When I first heard the title Patay na si Hesus and learned that veteran actress Jaclyn Jose was starring in it, I immediately thought that it was a tragic drama that will refer to the death of Jesus as in Jesus Christ. When I saw the trailer though, I knew that it was going to be something very very different.
Synopsis: Iyay (Jaclyn Jose) learns that her estranged husband Hesus has died. Even though she hates her ex-husband’s guts, she gathers her three children, Hubert (Vincent Viado), her eldest son with Down Syndrome, lesbian Judith Marie or Jude (Chai Fonacier) and board flunker Jay (Melde Montanez), and the family dog Hudas to take them on a road trip from Cebu to Dumaguete to pay their last respects.
Sometimes, trailers promise one thing and deliver something completely different, But in the case of Patay na si Hesus, the film delivered on everything that the trailer promised and more. The film is a perfect mix of humor and wit and while it draws the audience with some cheap laughs, it was not lacking in depth and a lot of heart.
Even though the film was delivered in mostly Visayan dialect, audiences have no trouble relating to the story and understanding the jokes. I love how the actors, a lot of them neophytes, displayed a level of comfort and familiarity with each other that makes audiences believe that they are a real family instead of just co-workers playing a role. The manner in which they executed the scenes naturally made the well-written script just jump out of the screen.
I loved that the road trip concept and the series of events just flowed fluidly. The story was told with such ease and the events unfolded without being forced. And while it was mainly a comedy, it was also able to shine the spotlight on how families cope with separation, how single parents struggle, how families accept imperfections, challenges for the LGBT and how at the core of all this is the binding force that is love.
I love how the ironies played out, how meta the scenes seemed at times, how sibling squabbles are portrayed (loud, over the top and very very physical) and how, even though Iyay’s kids seem to treat her mostly like a friend, they understand and respect her role as a mother. The conversation on down syndrome and breaking the stereotypes that go with it was one of the best highlights of the movie for me and I’m sure a lot of members of the audience.
All in all, I love how Patay na si Hesus toyed with my emotions for the film’s entire run. Just when I was feeling like a tear was about to fall, something hilarious happens and vice versa. It’s a unique gem of indie cinema because it was obvious that writers Raymond Lee and Fatrick Tabada, as well as director Victor Villanueva, put a lot of thought and effort into creating a quality film that relates to the audience on a personal level and tugs at the heartstrings like this one. Kudos to the entire Patay na si Hesus! I’m glad this was my first pick for this year’s Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino.