One of the more prominent entries from last year’s Cinema One Originals finally gets a cinematic release this year, and Antoinette Jadaone’s first feature offering is definitely worth of all the accolades it has received. Six Degrees of Separation From Lilia Cuntapay does not only strike someone’s pop culture knowledge (it’s Lilia effin’ Cuntapay for chrissakes), but it also manages to go deeper into the life of a very taken for granted actress in Philippine movie history.
The movie, which applies the documentary approach, follows the life of prominent showbiz extra Lilia Cuntapay who played roles of aswangs and other horror creatures every Halloween specials of [insert TV show here]. Form there, we learned that she received a Best Supporting Actress nomination, and we follow her every step of her journey to the awards ceremony including choosing the perfect gown, coming up with the speech, and conducting interviews from others.
The film shifts from mockumentary at one part to a probable good look of what her life was about to the next one, and Jadaone’s direction does a perfect job of not confusing the watchers. It’s a pretty good study of Nanay Lilia’s character as one can see the juxtaposition of the “nominee Lilia” from the “day in the life of Lilia.” There were also a handful of celebrity cameos that re-assures the impact that she has already left in the industry.
Amidst all that, probably the best thing I love about it (and I warn you, as this will definitely be cheesy) is that the movie has a heart. For someone who has been taken for granted for the longest time, it’s really not difficult to attach yourself with Nanay Lilia. You find yourself rooting for her every step of the way, and the movie does an exceptional job of achieving that. Nanay Lilia with the aswang costumes and the thick make up is already a fascinating character, yet the one behind it does make a more interesting character. In the end, everyone benefits.
I’m really saddened that this did not make a mark awards-wise this past year (aside from the Urian nominations), as it clearly deserved some recognition. Lilia Cuntapay deserves some Best Actress awards (and she was my personal pick last year for that title), and Geraldine Villamil should have at least a nomination. Well I guess, we can cherish the fact that they were, at least, triumphant at the Cinema One Originals Awards night last year.
I know by now that I’ve already sounded like a broken record, but in case you still want to hear it one more time: Six Degrees of Separation From Lilia Cuntapay is the best film of 2011. To add to that, it’s also the best one in years. It does a lot more than just telling a story; it presented us this persona of a tour de force woman that will forever remain immortal in our eyes sans the aswang portrayals.
SHAMELESS PLUGGING: Please please do catch this film. It deserves to be seen by a looooot of people. You can see it in the following theaters: SM Megamall, Sm City North EDSA, SM Southmall, and Robinson’s Galleria.