So…yesterday, me and my friend randomly watched Captive. We had planned to watch it after seeing the trailer on tv a week ago but didn’t really have a set schedule for it. Until I saw him out of his office while I was on my way to eat brunch alone yesterday. We ate lunch and thought hey why not watch Captive now? So we asked Kattera to check out what cinema houses were showing the film since we had no access to internet at that time. Apparently, SM was the only mall showing it. With 30 minutes ’til the scheduled start of the film, we got our butts off our chairs and “cabbed” our way to the mall. Four minutes left, and we were in the movie house with no one inside. It was 12:30 noon. What were you expecting?
Best seats in the house ever! We were seated right smack in the middle of the balcony, right in front of the movie screen. Best seats IN DA HAUS Y’ALL!!!
Well, we better get good seats, we paid 180 Pesos to see this film. Back in the day, it was only 60 Pesos. Now, it’s 3 times more expensive! This movie better be that good! Then again, it was a Brilliante Mendoza film so we kinda felt like we were shelling out good money.
And so with only 7 people inside, the film started to roll.

Captive Poster


I’m not really going to tell you the story of the movie. OK I somehow will. In a nutshell, it’s about the abduction of the Dos Palmas guests back in ’01 (Remember Gracia Burnham?) by the Abu Sayaff. We all are familiar with it. So I thought this was a film that was easy to tell.
Then the first cross fire happens. Shit’s about to go down! I held on to my seat. This is when you feel for the hostages. They were in a lose-lose situation. They could seriously get killed from bullets that were meant for their captors. So a series of cross fire goes on through out the movie. After the cross fire, they all try to move away, move to another spot in the jungle, some short conversations or plot happens then another cross fire happens then another plot then cross fire then Brilliante films a woman giving birth, like baby coming out of a vagina right in front of you then cross fire again, moves to another spot, some minor plot or conflict, then cross fire, then hostages are released, then cross fire, then release, then cross fire, then minor plot, and you’re thinking “no one’s getting raped?” ’cause you know a rape scene is basic in these types of stories and someone finally gets raped and no it wasn’t Mercedes Cabral (I had my money on her) then cross fire and the movie tells you it’s been a year, then Coco Martin shows up only to eat Ligo sardines and cross fire and casualties are a lot more because apparently it’s the end of the film.
So basically it’s like watching a series. Cross fires are an indication of the end or start of an episode within this film.

The cross fires will drain you.
After the 1st half of the film, you will get tired of the movie.
You can tell that I’m getting disappointed. (Which I wasn’t right after I saw the film, I was actually trying to justify the 180 pesos this movie got me to pay).
Brilliante better bring out something brilliant.
Now, it’s a Brilliante Mendoza film, expectations are high (since that Palm D’or Award he was given). So I was expecting a good gritty film that could tell a story. Unfortunately, this film didn’t even care to give a good backstory. The only backstory it could give was about Sid Lucero’s character, a ruthless Abu Sayaff who gets a knack out of killing. It was subtle. If you’re dumb, you missed the one and only backstory in this movie. It didn’t even bother to tell how Therese, Isabelle Hupert’s character left her family in France and ended up in the 3rd world jungle to become a social worker. Not even the old woman’s (Soledad I believe was the character’s name) story was told. That would have been a really good tearjerker. Basically, what I’m trying to say is, the movie does not get you emotionally attached to any character at all. Not even the Abu Sayaff kid who Therese(Hupert) has grown fond of (Therese is a mother to 2 boys and 1 girl). Well he did mention that the reason why he didn’t want to join lessons that the hostages were teaching to kids in a school they sought refuge was because his parents got killed while he was in school. But nothing really solid was built. The relationships among the characters were not really established properly. Blame the cross fires.
It even got to the point where I thought Therese was turning into a Mary Kay Letourneau!

I wish there was at least one good conversation among the characters. One that ran deep. Maybe there was one. But no it still wasn’t among the characters.
It was actually from one character to the audience.
One of the foreign hostages was asked by a media personnel (brought by Joel Torre’s character to the location) about how she felt being a hostage for a year now. She started slow, pacing the emotions, building it to anguish, about how she felt like as if she was abandoned, that no one cared for her and her husband who was still in captivity, finally showing disgust to the people she thought who were supposed to rescue them. This was the only scene that got me.
Kudos to that actress( I think her character’s name was Sophie) who I suspect was Gracia Burnham in the movie.

Now prior to writing this, I actually wanted to point out the actors who were in it to win it.  This is a movie with no “actors” from any of the giant tv networks’ “talent” pool.
I don’t know all the actors but let me try to remember who was good, mediocre and disappointing.
Let’s start with Isabelle Hupert. Bad. I just read her wikipedia page and it mentioned that she’s a really good screen actor. Well not in this movie. For me, I found her overacting in it. She wasn’t able to get into her character. Her acting did not match the profile of her character. She couldn’t create pace. She just couldn’t tell a story through her acting. #sorry Was there even a profile to begin with?
Next actor, Sid Lucero. Scary Good! He was scary. He was into it. He didn’t have that TV smile we all are familiar with all through out the movie. He was scary, ruthless, ill-tempered. You don’t want to mess with him. If you’re familiar with the tabloid story about him hitting a staff from a hardware shop, this could have been the reason why -method acting.
Angel Aquino. Naturally good. Like as if her character was a real person in a real situation.
Mercedes Cabral. She’s supposed to be Brilliante’s muse but he didn’t even give a fuck about her.
Mon Confiado. Goodbye Security Guard roles. Hello terrorist! I’ve always believed that you are one versatile actor. I don’t know why you don’t get tv breaks like Cherrie Pie Picache does.
And there was the Bank executive’s wife. She went mad at the first cross fire. She translated the emotions so well. Again, it’s all about keeping it real.
Allan Paule, I wanted to like him because I felt like he did a good job but I’ve seen that characterization in previous Allan Paule actings.
Tado was being the Abu Sayaff version of Tado. He was Tado with a gun. Very unfortunate.
And the teacher in the school (one of the comedians in the 90’s along with Zorayda) was good as well.
To me, it doesn’t matter if you’re only in the movie for a few seconds but for as long as you become your character then you’re good in my book.

So having complained this much, would I recommend the film?
Ya’know, it’s definitely a “refreshing” film. Finally it could be the end of a dark era in Philippine Cinema, cheap Star Cinema flicks that’s just out to get fast money. But it’s not a good film to be acquainted with Brilliante Mendoza (it’s my first time to see his movie), not because it has gruesome stuff in it(which we can all handle) but because it was a movie that could not nail a single story. (Check out Elephant by Gus Van Sant to know what I’m talking about, to think that film had so many characters and vantage points!).

Brilliante may not be so brilliant afterall.

I just wouldn’t pay 180 pesos to see this film.


Note: I have no film background but I am a paying movie-goer who justifies every peso I pay for a film.