Weekender



By Rianne Hill Soriano


Unsatisfactory




Posted on January 25, 2013


Movie Review Menor de Edad Directed by Joel Lamangan

IT IS TOUGH to watch a movie that goes nowhere, but it is tougher to discuss one if there is not much that is positive to say about it. In the case of Menor de Edad, a poorly told drama garnished with sexual overtones, it is better left as an episode for a television drama than a motion-picture offering.

THE RAPE SCENE of Meg Imperial in Menor de Edad
Local commercial movies with sexy and erotic themes have been a rarity since the biggest theater chain in the country decided not to screen R-18 movies. This production marks an attempt to bring sexy movies back into general circulation, as they used to be in 1990s cinema. (The film has an R-13 rating. -- Ed.) But meeting the expectations its target viewers can be a challenge.One thing is clear: the way the movie handles its sexual elements has an impact on both its content and marketing.

Topbilled by a relatively new actress, Meg Imperial, (and co-starring Ara Mina, Chynna Ortaleza, Jaycee Parker, and Wendell Ramos) Menor de Edad revolves around a troubled high school girl living with her dysfunctional family in a slum. She tries to escape her hellish life by joining a girl gang and indulging in sexual fantasies revolving around her teacher. Supplementing the main story are sub-stories featuring the teacher whose wife has cancer, and the career-driven media personality who uses the lives of the girl gang to produce sensational stories for public consumption.

When the protagonist is gang-raped, she is forced to accuse her innocent teacher of the crime. Meanwhile, the journalist takes advantage of the controversy, issuing biased reports about the alleged rapist.

The story looks very plausible. From its theme and concept, it has the right elements to capture the attention of either the commercial or the independent film market. But with its flawed storytelling, poor characterizations, and mostly shoddy acting, its potential completely fizzles out.

The production is unable to decide between being a "wholesome drama" or a "sexy drama." Add to that the flavorless stylistic choices in the hopes of looking a bit "indie," while still showcasing an entirely mainstream approach to storytelling -- the end product is bland, shallow and messy.

It is unable to weave the various elements in the tale into a cinematically coherent whole. A handful of dramatic parts somehow elevate the emotional values of the presentation, but the movie’s lack of character development drags the story down.

Its core is so shallow, that despite the fact that someone gets raped, someone gets stabbed, and someone dies very tragically, the audience wouldn’t really find itself seriously affected.

There are redundant scenes; an overreliance on music and dialogue to link back stories and emotional components; scenes that are merely expositions that reveal the events in the characters’ difficult lives; actors who utter their lines with blank or confused faces, stereotypical expressions, unrealistic reactions or traditional weeping just to keep the screen busy.

Yet there are still a few decent-to-commendable acting performances from supporting and minor roles, specifically Jaycee Parker as the lesbian lover, Almira Muhlach as the sickly wife, and the stage actors who play lawyers in the court scenes.

Nothing vital holds the film together to make it a sincerely heart-rending piece. The main character’s sense of belongingness is never explored. The rapists’ threats are never genuinely seen in the girl’s eyes. For the most part, the many victims and victimizers in the story are either flat or overreacting. The resolution suffers from mediocre acting. The social and moral issues remain superficial and oversimplified.

MTRCB Rating: R-13