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  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 10, No. 2, 2011
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
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Andrée Lafontaine
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Sylvain Richard
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Shanghai Ghetto
Talk to Her
City of God
Magdalene Sisters
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Barbarian Invasions
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Blind Shaft
The Corporation
Station Agent
The Agronomist
Maria Full of Grace
Man Without a Past
In This World
Buffalo Boy
Shake Hands with the Devil
Born into Brothels
The Edukators
Big Sugar
A Long Walk
An Inconvenient Truth
Sisters In Law
Send a Bullet
Banking on Heaven
Chinese Botanist's Daugher
Ben X
La Zona
The Legacy
Irina Palm
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
Poor Boys Game
Finn's Girl
Leaving the Fold
The Mourning Forest
Beneath the Rooftops of Paris
Before Tomorrow
Paraiso Travel
Necessities of Life
For a Moment of Freedom
Blood River
By the Will of Genghis Kahn
The Concert
Weaving Girl
Into Eternity
When We Leave

Brillante Mendoza's


reviewed by


Lola played at Montreal's 2010 Festival du nouveau cinéma. Ron Wilkinson, who writes for, gave the film 3.0 out of 4. For festival ratings, click HERE.

Not the knockout punch of his previous Kinatay or Serbis but an unvarnished look into the inner-workings of a world forced to brutality.

LolaLola (the Filipino word for grandmother), the third major work of Cannes auteur Brillante Mendoza, had big shoes to fill. It had to match the simmering anger and seething underbelly pungency of Serbis and Kinatay. Although it may lack some of the raw energy of those films, it brings a dialog about right and wrong to the screen that has never been said better.

The film starts with the tragic death of the lola's grandson by stabbing. As the report goes, the teenager was killed for his cell phone in the violent suburbs of Manila. The viewer knows there was probably more to this than was included in the initial report, but a suspect is apprehended and put into jail. The movie starts with the aggrieved grandmother fumbling through the squalor and danger of the roughest barrios in the world to scrape together the resources for a funeral. The ceremony will be the most expensive thing she has ever purchased. It is by far the saddest.

As this proceeds, nickels and dimes at a time, the accused is introduced. Although he is intially depicted as a violent and disturbed young man, his humanity is brought to the surface as the crime itself recedes into the background. His grandmother becomes as much the focus of the story as the grandmother of the deceased. While the latter works every angle in the poverty-stricken ghetto to buy a casket, the former seeks first justice for her grandson and then works towards the recommended amicable settlement.

The amicable settlement consists of an apology and a payment of a sum of money to the grandmother of the victim. As this story unfolds the audience is treated to two profoundly meaningful stories. The first story is about a grandmother saving her grandson from prison that is tantamount to a death sentence. The second story is the struggle of the bereaved to accept the heartfelt apology of the family of the perpetrator and the cash settlement instead of demanding the pound of flesh that is their right by law.Lola

The concept of buying freedom for a man assumed to be guilty of homicide will catch many off guard. Things are not done that way in North America. At least they are not supposed to be done that way. But America has prisons where inmates survive and are sometimes even rehabilitated. In the Philippines and many other countries, a sentence in prison of five years is a death sentence unless the family keeps a constant supply of food coming and the prisoner is strong and a skilled fighter. The odds of survival are miniscule.

The story turns out to be about acceptance and forgiveness instead of being a mystery thriller about collaring the criminal. The implied lesson is that we are all capable of criminal acts if we are pushed far enough. As we see more and more into the family life of the killer we learn that they are starving because road construction has crippled their hand-cart based transportation business. They are losing their meager possessions one by one as they struggle to support a son who is himself the victim of birth defects.

Great cinematography of monsoon rain as the watershed decisions of life and death come to pass. The barrio is on the water and the funeral is even held in boats on the water.

In the end the two matriarchs have the fateful meeting in which they join in their sorrow and their hope for the future and do the best they can. The fact that they do it outside of the law is significant. Forgiveness and healing are not legislative mandates; they are practical remedies for the inherently predatory nature of humankind.

Mendoza gives another solid and commendable work, finding beauty in the ugliness of the human condition.

Directed by: Brillante Mendoza
Written by: Linda Casimiro
Starring: Rustica Carpio and Anita Linda

For the ratings of 2010 Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, HERE. = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting
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CINEMANIA (Montreal) - festival de films francophone 4-14th novembre, Cinema Imperial info@514-878-0082
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