Movie: MNL 143

MNL 143

A long FX ride from Buendia to Fairview. Approximately 20 Kilometers on the road where different life stories race to be told: responsibility, morality, integrity and reality. Familiar stories, some you’ve already heard of on street corners from friends and neighbors. Stories of ordinary people as they struggle with hope, resignation and compromise.

They are people from different walks of life: a mother looking for validation from her family, a young couple dealing with morality, a small child with a simple joy. Manang Gloria and her prejudice; a woman who loves the absence of waiting, and the activist armed with nothing but principles and convictions. Then there’s Mila who strongly believes she deserves to have her happy endings back. Her story is nothing new. It has been retold countless times in movies and even in badly written love songs. Ramil her ex-lover, an FX taxi driver who never gives up searching for his true love. He’s not afraid to find the meaning of his life from his own sense of happiness. Hoping for the sense of stillness even as the world around him seems to be changing fast.

When watching films, we can’t help but see two things on screen: our expectations–and reality. Yes, I went all 500 Days of Summer there, but it’s true. Especially with films you’re really excited to see.

That’s what happened when I caught a screening of MNL 143. I saw two versions–my expectations, and reality. Fortunately, the reality was not at all disappointing. Although, as you’ve probably gleaned by now, it was not what I expected.

Whenever people would ask me what the film was about, I’d say it’s about a man looking for the love of his life–and finding her. But, watching the film, that wasn’t what the film was about after all. It’s about the journey. The search. The process.

It’s about discovering who you are, while you try to discover what you want.

Our main character is Ramil, because it’s his journey we’re tagging along with. And, in a way, this is his story–his search for the woman he left thirteen years ago. The woman he’s spent the last five years looking for.

I would like to say the film was beautiful. If only because of the ending, which I particularly loved. But there are a lot of things I could’ve done without in the film. Seeing as I still found myself okay with the whole package, I’ll write these off as personal preference;

One, I wish the team behind the film could’ve cleaned the music up better. If Ramil is supposedly listening to the radio, it should sound like a radio–not of someone singing in a room full of people trying to keep quiet. Or, if there was really no way to produce radio-quality music, why not have the singers sound like they’re singing in a radio show? They were able to do the radio announcer thing without any problems.

Two, there’s the issue with fares. Some of the passengers paid, some didn’t. I know that it’s not really pertinent information, but when two of the characters revolved around the payment of the fares (the “religious” woman and the stingy man), it would’ve been a good idea to keep track (and show) which characters paid and which ones didn’t.

And then there’s the, supposedly, really dramatic turn of Alan Paule’s Ramil as he reflected on life inside his vehicle. I’m not going to pretend that I understood what that was about. All I want to say is–did it really have to be that long?

Even with these complaints though, I must say that I was not disappointed with MNL 143. It’s worth the price of the ticket.


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