With all of the films in competition in Cinemalaya 2019, director Thop Nazareno’s Edward is surely among the best. How a film set in the depressing backdrop of a Philippine public hospital can be whimsical, hopeful and depressing at the same time is beyond me. And this is the magic that this film presents.
Synopsis: Left alone to care for his ailing father, a young boy goes through his rites of passage within the confines of a jampacked public ward where he is faced with the harsh realities of life but also finds love and friendship while he’s at it.
What makes Edward a standout movie is its strong lead, played by Louise Abuel. From the onset, he brings audiences along with his journey as he navigates through the realities of the public health care system. He effectively portrays a somehwat rebellious teen who harbors family issues as well as the innocence of a boy in the throes of experiencing first love.
Louise realistically portrays the reluctance of a boy who is saddled with the responsibilities of an adult, all while wrestling with his inner demons. This young actor allows audiences to view the budding experiences of an actual teenager — the playfulness, the innocence and uncertainty that each normal teen goes through on a day to day basis. It is funny, endearing, frustrating all at the same time.
The film is an eye opener about what is lacking in the public health care system, but because the film is centered around Edward, who represents the poor and impoverished sector of society, audiences feel even more aghast and helpless at the situation. He represents millions of Filipinos who suffer through sub human conditions in public facilities because they could not afford to take their sick elsewhere. In the same vein, it shows how doctors and nurses in these hospitals are often desensitized to tragedy due to overwork.
Despite the weight of the social issues tackled in the movie, the film balances out audiences emotions with the positive side of Edward’s experience with his friend Renz and first love Agnes. These characters represent a ray of hope that having someone on your side counts for a lot during the hard times. These moments alternate with the scenes in the ward where patients have grown numb to their plight since it has become the norm.
Ironically, it was at his lowest point that the film manages to establish an emotional connection between Edward and his dad. It wasn’t overly dramatic, which was a good thing to help audiences appreciate the shift in their relationship more naturally.
The musical score and the soundtrack, on the other hand, sets the perfect tone for the scenes in the film.
All in all, Edward had plenty of things going for it. It had family drama, adventure, a love story, a buddy comedy, all rolled into one. You wouldn’t imagine it from a glance but you have to watch it to find out how this happened. The best part — audiences go through each emotion as a willing hostage and that is the mark of effective cinema.The ending was particularly poignant. One thing is for sure. Indie or not, Edward is a magnificent piece of cinema. Bravo!