By Rianne Hill Soriano, Contributor

Music of love and mortality

Posted on September 13, 2013

Movie Review
Directed by Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes

SONATA -- an entry to the Sineng Pambansa National Film Festival 2013 which is ongoing at all SM Cinemas -- captures the poetic eloquence of life through art, solitude and relationships. It promotes a language of understanding for people dealing with pain and loss, as well as those thriving in joy and discovery. The narrative is not without flaws, but the maturity of the filmmakers’ artistry ultimately makes sense of the story’s inexplicable music about love and mortality.

Peque Gallaga directs a tale of a burned-out opera singer who rediscovers her spirit through a young boy. It stars Cherie Gil.
MTRCB Rating: PG-13
This dramatic piece, crafted by the familiar powerhouse tandem of Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes, tells the tale of an unlikely friendship between an internationally renowned opera singer (Cherie Gil) who is forced to retire after losing her voice and a city boy (Chino Jalandoni) who finds himself enjoying the beauty of provincial life. After a long and successful career in Europe, the broken diva returns to her hometown and exiles herself inside her ancestral home. A good friend from decades back arrives to help, and brings along her son who becomes instrumental for this worn-out artist to recover her spirit.

The story explores the life of an ageing woman who has dedicated her life to her craft at the expense of love and family. Upon losing the limelight, she realizes she is left with nothing to live for and her whole world falls apart. When she unexpectedly finds herself in the company of a young boy, their unique friendship allows her to discover the healing power of love, art and nature.

This film is meant to make you feel more than think. In the film’s first half, it doesn’t exactly work as a seamless offering. The story flows awkwardly at first -- until the interconnected characters finally establish harmony on screen.

The film sends a warm message that no matter where the harshness of life brings you, you can still find your way by returning home. It shows how artistic pursuits and the beauty of nature can have an impact on human interactions in ways beyond comprehension. It promotes the revitalizing power of art and the countryside by highlighting simple sources of joy, craziness and hope.

Paying tribute to the beauty of the province of Negros Occidental, the film showcases many awe-inspiring vistas that reflect the filmmakers’ sincere love and attachment to the place. Clearly, this project brings the people behind it closer to home. Yet they also transcend their comfort zone.

The sound and music generally work for the story. However, some forgivable synching issues remain in the edit. The sequence involving characters speaking in French, along with the sequence set on a French stage, feel quite awkward and not as genuine as the many other substantial parts of the film. Then there is the nature montage depicting rural life which while able to collectively make its point for the narrative, for some reason still doesn’t completely establish a cinematic synergy in the film’s edit.

Early on in the film, the acting performances are mixed. Cherie Gil’s character remains solid throughout, but there is an inconsistency in Chino Jalandoni’s movements and facial reactions so he doesn’t always come out convincing. Nevertheless, this child actor, along with the rest of the ensemble cast, still manage to carry the film toward a very touching end.