Cinemalaya Dark/Black Comedy Drama Suspense Uncategorized

CINEMALAYA 2019 | MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Pandanggo Sa Hukay’ (2019)

Iza Calzado dances with death in this roller-coaster ride of a movie. Here’s my review of Sheryl Rose Andes’ ‘Pandanggo Sa Hukay’.

The film is about Elena (Iza Calzado), a midwife at a birthing clinic in Cavite. She’s preparing for a job interview abroad, and on the day before her interview, fate brings her to a dangerous circumstance. She is suddenly kidnapped by a notorious robbery gang as they need a midwife to help their leader’s wife give birth. We follow Elena as she tries to survive the night and get to her interview in the morning.

To be honest, it’s a slow burn. The action all happens close to the climax, but I’m not complaining. Throughout the movie, we get to peek into the daily lives of midwives, whose stories aren’t really featured that much (or at all) in Philippine cinema.

It’s interesting to see how a midwife works, and to actually see them do their jobs. It’s a fresh take on medical themes, as there are no doctors or nurses featured in the film, only midwives and their equally important role in the medical field.

As I said, all the action happens during the latter half of the film, but the rest of the film is entertaining as is. The friendship between Elena and her workmates feels authentic, which is great because it takes up a lot of the screen time.

Things get a bit problematic when it reaches the climax though, leaving all moral compasses aside and settling for a conclusion where justice is achieved through violence. I mean, I’m not saying I wouldn’t do what Elena did if I were in her shoes, but it just feels too extreme for the situation, and it didn’t really sit well with me.

Iza Calzado is excellent, as always. She is game with anything that the movie requires her to do, and we actually see a side of her that we haven’t seen in her previous movies. She’s already a great actress, no need to prove it even further. Charlie Dizon isn’t given much to do, but she delivers. Mercedes Cabral isn’t in the film for long, but she makes her mark given the short screen time.

Pandanggo Sa Hukay proves how strong a woman is, even after going through hell. I’m not completely sold on the moral choices of the film, but it really depends on how you look at these things. It takes some time for the story to heat up, but when it does, it’s definitely worth it.

My Rating: 8/10

Here’s the full trailer for ‘Pandanggo Sa Hukay’:

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