×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Foster Child

A day in the life of a foster family preparing to say goodbye to the boy they've raised is the simple premise behind "Foster Child," Brillante Mendoza's fourth and most mature work. Shot partly in real time in the slums of Manila, the pic has considerably more texture than Mendoza's earlier digital efforts, exhibiting a fine sense of control along with a sophisticated use of space. Fests will be sure to adopt this worthy slice of cinema verite.

With:
With: Cherry Pie Picache, Eugene Domingo, Jiro Manio, Alwyn Uytingco, Dan Alvaro, Kier Segundo. (Tagalog, English dialogue)

A day in the life of a foster family preparing to say goodbye to the boy they’ve raised is the simple premise behind “Foster Child,” Brillante Mendoza’s fourth and most mature work. Shot partly in real time in the slums of Manila, the pic has considerably more texture than Mendoza’s earlier digital efforts, exhibiting a fine sense of control along with a sophisticated use of space. Fests will be sure to adopt this worthy slice of cinema verite.

Morning comes early for the Manlangqui family as they busily but good-naturedly ready themselves for the coming day. As Dad (Dan Alvaro) prepares to go to work, Mom Thelma (Cherry Pie Picache) gets her teen sons Gerald (Alwyn Uytingco) and Yuri (Jiro Manio) all set while tending to 3-year-old foster child John-John (Kier Segundo). Though slum dwellers, the family is luckier than most, with a modest, split-level house that feels crowded but livable.

Also that morning, social worker Bianca (Eugene Domingo) moves through the slums, speaking with mothers and children with a warmhearted and solicitous breeziness. Once at Thelma’s, she confirms a meeting they’ll all have that evening with an American couple scheduled to adopt John-John. On her departure, Thelma takes John-John to preschool, then to the foster care agency where Bianca shows her the twins who will be her next charge.

Mendoza isn’t averse to throwing in a little propaganda for the cause, especially when a nun thanks Thelma and tells her (and auds) about the merits of the foster care program. Thelma is clearly one of their best contractors, with a shelf full of plaques proclaiming her as Foster Mother of the Year. She’s expressive, loving and playful, so it’s especially difficult when she and Yuri go to a fancy hotel downtown to hand John-John over to his new parents.

Structurally pared down to the essentials, pic’s focused, linear progression allows character and emotion to gently build without the unwieldy shifts Mendoza employed in earlier films. With a docu-like authenticity similar to his “The Teacher,” helmer has a feel for neorealism that’s proving to be his forte. Locations are genuine and skillfully used — not only the slums but the deluxe hotel that proves such an intimidating environment for the respectably impoverished Thelma.

Thesping is utterly convincing and natural, with both Picache (also in Mendoza’s “Summer Heat”) and Domingo appearing to live their parts rather than perform them. Lensing mimics a casual, observational eye, either quietly trailing characters or remaining fixed as action passes at various distances. Sound in the office scene is problematic, but otherwise, tech credits are strong, greatly benefiting from 35mm.

Foster Child

Philippines

Production: A Seiko Films presentation of a CenterStage Prods. production. (International sales: Ignatius Films Canada, Missisauga.) Produced by Robbie Tan. Directed by Brillante Mendoza. Screenplay, Ralston Jover.

Crew: Camera (color), Odyssey Flores; editor, Charliebebs Gohetia; music, Jerrold Tarog; production designer, Benjamin Padero; art director, Deans Habal; sound (Dolby SR), Emmanuel Clemente; line producer, Jocelyn Bracamonte; assistant director, James Amparo. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors' Fortnight), May 25, 2007. Running time: 98 MIN.

With: With: Cherry Pie Picache, Eugene Domingo, Jiro Manio, Alwyn Uytingco, Dan Alvaro, Kier Segundo. (Tagalog, English dialogue)

More Film

  • Emma Thompson

    Emma Thompson Exits Skydance Animation Movie 'Luck' Over John Lasseter Hire

    Emma Thompson has dropped out of the voice cast of Skydance Animation’s upcoming film “Luck,” a spokesperson for the actress told Variety. The beloved British star did some recording for the project, but dropped out in January, following John Lasseter’s hire to the top animation job at David Ellison’s studio, an insider close to the [...]

  • Daniel Kaluuya Lakeith Stanfield

    Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield in Talks to Star in Film About Black Panther Party Leader

    Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield are in negotiations to star in the historical drama “Jesus Was My Homeboy” about Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton. The project is set up at Warner Bros. with “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler producing along with Charles King through his Marco production company. Executive producers are Sev Ohanian, Zinzi [...]

  • Watch First Trailer for Motley Crue

    Watch First Trailer for Motley Crue Biopic 'The Dirt'

    Netflix has dropped the first trailer for its Motley Crue biopic “The Dirt” — based on Neil Strauss’ best-selling history of the legendarily bad-behaved ‘80s metal icons — and it looks like the film pulls no punches in terms of the band’s famously sordid history. In this two-minute trailer, we get glimpses of singer Vince [...]

  • ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the

    MyFrenchFilmFestival Prizes ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the Right Shape’

    Actress-director Noémie Lvovsky’s “Tomorrow And Thereafter,” a heartfelt homage to the director’s own mother, and Fabien Gorgeart’s “Diane Has the Right Shape,” about one woman’s surrogate motherhood, both won big at the 2019 UniFrance MyFrenchFilmFestival which skewed female in its winners and viewership, making particularly notable inroads into South East Asia and Latin America. Opening [...]

  • Vue International Chief Slams BAFTA For

    Vue International Chief Slams BAFTA for Awarding Prizes to 'Roma'

    Tim Richards, the founder and chief executive of Vue International, one of the largest cinema chains in Europe, has slammed the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for awarding prizes to Netflix’s “Roma.” Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white film, which is also up for several Oscars, won four BAFTAs at the awards ceremony in London on [...]

  • Oscars Ultimate Party Guide

    Oscar's Ultimate Party Guide 2019

    Welcome to Oscar week. It’s the time of year when Hollywood’s film industry celebrates all things movies. But it’s certainly not just the big show everyone is looking forward to. With voting closed, it’s all about the parties now. Who’s doing what and where and when are they doing it are the questions everyone is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content