Friday, February 26, 2010

Wanted: Border (2009, Ray Defante Gibraltar)

Is it a masterpiece or not? I’ve seen Wanted: Border a couple of times but I’m still torn about my feelings for this unforgettable film. There are times when I deem it not worthy enough to be rated as one of the best films of 2009. But, there are those days when I consider it a masterpiece.

The films of Ray Gibraltar are mainly characterized by jumbled editing. This one-of-a-kind film straddles the thin lines between sanity and craziness, between the seven last words and the seven deadly sins, between excellent acting and bad performance, between the sacred and the profane, between a likable good film and a disturbing great film. The non-linear editing by Tara Illenberger is perfectly suited to the ‘border’ concept of the film. It gives viewers a glimpse of the unstable and volatile state of mind of the characters.

A plethora of disturbing characters pepper this film. An envious and greedy politician connives with a resident to spread vile rumors against a mother and her daughter Salvacion. The fatal lynching of her mother leaves the girl to fend for herself alone until she reaches adulthood. The young lady hooks up with a soldier assigned to torture and kill communists. This affair triggers her lust for blood.

As decades pass, Salvacion ‘Saleng’ Castro (Rosanna Roces) becomes an owner of an apartment/eatery. She is a religious fanatic who had a few conversations with God. Her apartment/eatery becomes some sort of haven to problematic people such as the gluttonous obese woman, slothful/lustful filmmaker, and the wrathful student.

Acidic black humor abounds in this film. The scenes with the imprisoned artist are a hoot. There is also the wicked scene involving a dildo and a lecherous stepfather. The campy acting of Roces serves as some relief from the dark and disturbing nature of the movie.

Roces is perfectly cast as Saleng. Her performance borders on greatness and campiness. There are some scenes in which she seems on the verge of laughter. Roces said that her ‘bad’ acting was ordered by director Gibraltar. She made her director proud. It is her best performance so far. It was a surprise to learn that Gibraltar initially thought of offering the lead to Ronnie Lazaro. The latter is a great actor but I think he would be too serious to give the film the desired ‘campiness.’ The proposed film with Lazaro will just end up being too dark and wicked.

Wanted: Border is a must-see film. It is remarkable for its vicious ability to have viewers identify with the sinful behavior of a character/s. It is up to the viewer to exorcise those personal demons or let them out in the open. As it is, Wanted: Border is a perfect movie to watch this Lent.

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