Review: Barber’s Tales [Mga Kwentong Barbero] (2013)

Barber's Tales

Set in a rural area during the downfall of the Marcos regime, Jun Lana’s Barber’s Tales centered more on women empowerment which somehow mirrored the era’s political upheaval and its result during that time (where then widowed Corazon Aquino became the first woman president of the Republic Of The Philippines).

Newly widowed Malou, played by Eugene Domingo, suddenly finds herself manning the town’s only barbershop, which has been with his husband’s family for generations.

Unable to attract customers [yes, because she’s A woman], Malou forged a friendship with a prostitute named Rosa. The latter urges her “colleagues” to get their male clients to patronize Malou’s barbershop or risk being found out. With this development, Malou slowly stepped up and took center stage and asserted herself into the town’s male-dominated territory, where rumors spread faster than anyone could imagine. This gig also led Malou into a dangerous environment where she’s got to choose one side to keep her legacy.

The film is not hard to like at all. The humor inserted now and then kept on swaying me, thinking if I should take the theme very seriously or not. There’s some magical realism feel into it that somehow negates its more severe impact. The juxtaposition of Eugene Domingo’s character here and her portrayal at Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank goes to show how immersed Domingo is when it comes to tackling her roles. Here, we feel so much from her anguish. There’s even emotion when she looks at Iza Calzado (who played the mayor’s wife) dead in the eye. Eugene knows how to choose projects that will highlight her movie appeal and her Whoopi Goldberg-like acting style (this is just, in my opinion, though – there is some semblance if you think about it).

The very latter part of the film has quite a dramatic flair that Jun Lana could’ve done without, although in hindsight, it feels like there’s just a pressing need for him to leave all loose ends tied. I wouldn’t say I liked it, but it didn’t discourage me from appraising the feature as a whole because it is what it is. The visuals were good during the first half, but they were inconsistent for the rest of the film. The music rendered by Ryan Cayabyab may have been too forced when but it magnified each scene.

Overall, Barber’s Tales did a magnificent job of luring the audience off their couches and heading off to the cinema. It is, after all, starred by Eugene Domingo, and although the technical side somehow didn’t live up to its potential, it’s still a film that any Filipino viewers would be proud to showcase overseas.

Rating: 8/10

Director: Jun Lana
Cast: Eugene Domingo, Eddie Garcia, Iza Calzado, Daniel Fernando, Nora Aunor, Noni Buencamino, Sue Prado

Barber’s Tales premiered at the 2013 Tokyo International Film Festival where Eugene Domingo bagged the Best Actress Award. It had its Philippines wide release in August of 2014


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