A terminal-illness drama bursting with humor and life-affirming optimism, Filipino entry "100" charts the final months of a  33-year-old career girl dedicated to making the most of every remaining moment.

A terminal-illness drama bursting with humor and life-affirming optimism, Filipino entry “100” charts the final months of a  33-year-old career girl dedicated to making the most of every remaining moment. Glossy, femme-targeted production is radically different from the grungy Filipino slum dramas most commonly seen at fests and reps a  noteworthy debut for experienced scripter Chris Martinez. Though it could do with some trimming, assured tonal  control and winning perfs give it a shot at commercial success on home turf. Pic has specialized offshore tube potential and should travel widely at fests after winning the audience vote at Pusan.

Having been diagnosed with inoperable cancer and given a maximum of six months to live, business executive Joyce De Leon  (Mylene Dizon) quits work and plasters her wall with 100 Post-it notes listing everything she wants and needs to do before the end. Determined to go out in style but less sure how she’ll tell her widowed mother, Joyce first decides to buy her  own coffin. Typical of the film’s winning way with dark subject matter, the haggling between Joyce and the casket saleswoman is both funny and touching. 

Joyce’s mission follows many directions, allowing the pic to touch on a wide range of emotions. Taking stock of personal matters, she ends her affair with married lover Rod (T.J. Trinidad) and reconnects with Emil (Ryan Eigenmann), a nice guy  she’s carried a torch for since their school days. The terrible pain felt by a parent who outlives a child is powerfully brought home when Joyce finally musters up the courage to tell her mother, Eloisa (Tessie Thomas). 

But the emphasis is much more on the long list of enjoyments Joyce wants to cram in. In these matters she’s given a terrific assist by best pal Ruby (Eugene Domingo, “Foster Child”), a cheery chatterbox who gets a new lease on  life while joining Joyce in dope-smoking, bar-crawling, skinny-dipping and staying up late to watch DVDs of classic four-hankie Filipino weepies.

Cutting effectively between lighthearted material and more serious discussions about what might lie on the other side of death, the story only bogs down when far too much time is allocated to home movie footage of Joyce and Ruby whooping it up in Hong Kong. Here and in a few other static moments, Dizon’s charismatic performance helps ease over the bumps.

Silence and beautiful images of a lake are elegantly used to symbolize Joyce’s passage from life to death. Smooth HD lensing in comfortable middle-class homes and upscale surroundings reps the highlight of a classy tech package.

100

Philippines

Production

A Cinemalaya presentation of Martinez Rivera Films production, in association with Straight Shooters Media. (International sales: Unico Entertainment, Makati City, Philippines.) Produced by Marlon Rivera, Chris Martinez.  Directed, written by Chris Martinez.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Larry Manda; editor, Ike Veneracion; music, Brian Cua, Ricci Chan; production designer, Aby Jamnague-Rivera; sound (Dolby Digital), Mac Vasquez; assistant director, Melvin Lee. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (New Currents -- competing), Oct. 8, 2008. (Also in Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.) Running time: 116 MIN.

With

Mylene Dizon, Eugene Domingo, Tessie Tomas, T.J. Trinidad, Ryan Eigenmann, Simon Ibarra, John Lapuz.  (Tagalog, English dialogue)
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