Mercedes Cabral in Colossal
Grief is powerful. It makes you remember so much it drives you to tears. It makes you desperate to take back what was lost like that professor on Makoto Shinkai's Children.... Grief is long, sad and heavy. Grief is a journey. Whammy Alcazaren's Colossal chronicles this journey on grief's different phases and faces.
The film opens with music on a long black scene, like in 2001: a Space Odyssey without the promise of grandiose and spectacle. Colossal's music flow like a stream of thought or a recall of a happy memory. And there comes the images: first, of a man (Acey Aguilar) on the driver's seat, holding he steering wheel on tears. From the lonely car, we follow the man into his journey to take back the time he had with his wife (Mercedes Cabral). Remembering their first meeting, and how they were when they were young.
For those who have seen the earlier works of Alcazaren, you may see similarities on styles from Leviathan and The Violator. The way the whole film works feels like it happens just inside the Man's head. The scenes manifested what the Man felt and thinks. Images were treated with much subjectivity but also with a lot of intimacy: the intimacy of monochrome and film grains (actually shot on 16mm), melancholy of old photographs induces nostalgia, and repeating scenes like memories being held on to avoid one from forgetting. The lines, on the intimate Cebuano dialect, were being read with an aged but soft voice like it was from a love letter.
Like most experimental works I've seen lately, Colossal mostly cling on it's emotional rather than it's narrative and logical content. Contrary to popular belief, these experimental works are mostly for the heart and is not necessarily intellectual. Complex the form may be, but so is human emotions. Scenes may be fragmented, but so is human memory. Rather than to entertain, these kinds of works seeks to attain what art itself want to attain: humanity. Intentionally or not, films like this mostly set to move it's audience on most unexpected ways.
Daring in form and heartwarming in content, Alcazaren's debut feature showed both promise and hope for the other side of Philippine Cinema. I'm actually excited to see reactions from future audiences of this work. Hoping that more people would get to see something this rare.