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A Negrense writes about Juan

Louis Archie Dreyfus
Sometimes a movie comes and reminds us that for a film to be memorable, it should not be important that the actors be excessively good looking and that the plot be filled with twists and turns and complexity as what most audience expect. There are times that all it needs is a touch of realism and the feeling that one is not watching but rather experiencing what is showing onscreen. That is what makes LARO NG BUHAY NI JUAN tick!

For two hours, I was taken back to the slums of Manila where I myself was able to live a few years back. One could almost feel the glaring heat of daylight; could almost smell the decaying scent of a mixture of countless odors; could hear the mingled noises in front of the unending sound of traffic in Edsa. All these images projected to the watcher with the subliminal signals that the director, Jay Altarejos, whether purposely or not signals the viewer on what to watch out for!

The simple style of the opening credits did not impress me at first, until i realized that its simplicity gave the audience the needed ticket to be in the story. Ray-an Dulay's acting was superb in its reality with nuances that gave him credibility. The word PSYCHO in front of the parked jeepney paralleled my observation on the craziness of what was transpiring in front of me; the word PRIVATE at the back of another jeep prepares you for the private/intimate life of who Juan really was. And the almost manic grabbing of Edwin's hair by his lover (Nico Antonio) as if it would somehow get him to stay breaks your heart much like the irony of the spilled rice bought from borrowed "trenta" when free rice is being given out by a would be politician.

In comparison to the blinding light of the day scenes come the dark shadows of the night scenes. Here we feel the tension of the streets, the secrets that lurks in corners and the secrets we all would want to keep. Yes, there are full frontal nudity, but they are much needed to show each viewer that they are but voyeurs in the life of Juan.

I give kudos to direk Jay, for sharing with us a vision that otherwise we tend to forget. I refuse to declare if this is his best work considering that there are certainly more to come and that this is his first foray with a realtime feature but then this work has already a place in my own collection.

I am not a film critic but merely an avid fan but what disturbs me was that I did not just watch the film, but I was taken from my seat at the moviehouse and transported to where a lot of dreamers had been finding themselves in time and again, and what my past could have been; by sharing with me a treasured glimpse of the LARO NG BUHAY NI JUAN.

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