I’m not sure how many people find the hysterics and shrilly wailing of people in Tagalog films appealing, but it tends to annoy me. But I think HIMALA is a very interesting character study. The prostitute’s lover and her future plans, the curious and troubled documentary filmmaker and the people whose only concern is livelihood and hand to mouth existence.
There’s also Elsa herself who uses the paranormal or the pseudo-paranormal if only to be of help to those in need. My favorite scenes were the confession of the filmmaker to the priest, and perhaps the priest talking about the possibility of benign deceptions to uplift the human condition.
Minus the overwrought hysterics, and the terrible and crude opening score, HIMALA is great and it does not fall into the trap of having an incomprehensible storytelling since this was originally meant to be “experimental.” The final message is delivered with enough decisiveness, and ultimately reflects the cultural and religious taboos of the Filipino people.
I thought some of the gags were very episodic at first; and the ridiculously contrived turning point for the father losing his child. But you couldn’t go wrong if you have a movie with Willem Dafoe as an annoyingly pretentious filmmaker whose work is foiled by Mr.Bean in the end; a scene that brings payoff and full circle to the very episodic gags throughout. I think Emma de Caunes is very attractive as Bean’s leading lady… and I really, really like the way this parodicizes or makes a satire the elitist “arthouse” filmmakers in cinema and also the cliche of the struggling actress who isn’t even spared adequate moments of screen time! But as it happens, Bean foils all of that and Dafoe even has his own ridiculous character arc as a filmmaker as a result.
I recommend this to all filmmakers who like to think they’re “artistic”.