REVIEW: CULION - Ensemble Of Emotions From The Colony

As one of the entries for the MMFF 2019, Culion banks on the rich history, stories, and the people which made it a worthy film to be shared this Christmas season. Written by Ricky Lee and directed by Alvin Yapan , Culion goes back to the days where the cure for leprosy is still being discovered and seclusion of lepers remains its only treatment.

The island colony has completely eradicated the disease and now wants the world to know that people can now visit them and get to know their history. There is even a museum about the town and also beautiful mountains and sea views as it is part of the province of Palawan.

The story of Culion in The Commonwealth era are already an ensemble of stories from the patients, government officials, clergy, and Sano (unaffected residents). Being a national institution it also brought in people from different regions in the Philippines, which makes it colorful linguistically.

The main protagonists here are three women: Anna, Ditas and Doris played by Iza Calzado, Meryll Soriano, and Jasmine Curtis Smith respectively. Though they suffer from the same condition, they come from different backgrounds and complicated love lives.

It is no doubt that the three actresses are perfect for the roles and further complemented with fellow actors giving more emotion on certain scenes. Notable performances are also given by Joem Bascon, Mike Liwag, and John Lloyd Cruz (who is back from a long hiatus), matching with the complicated situations of loss, struggle, and love.

Though there would be some bit players that kinda lacked energy in some scenes, most of the ensemble were at par and makes a impression with their roles. Specifically Suzette Ranillo, Earl Andrew Figueroa, Lee O’Brien, and Simoun Ibarra. 

I also liked the ample use of CGI to bring out the period without being too flashy of the effects. It was also paired by a romantic score of rondallas and some songs inserted which are beautiful to hear but also bares a sorrowful message with its words and rhythm. Their official soundtrack was also sung by the one and only Joanna Ampil.

One can learn a lot of history with the details placed in its production. They made sure that they will be historically accurate and relevant. It’s timeline may lie on the peaceful days of the Philippine Commonwealth yet it’s one of the most inspiring stories of that period that should be seen by today’s moviegoers.

Culion is showing in cinemas on December 25, 2019 as part of the 45th Metro Manila Film Festival.

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