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

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

Barber's TalesSet 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 end 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 passed for generation from her husband’s family.

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

The film is not hard to like at all. The humor inserted every now and then keeps on swaying me thinking if I should take the theme very seriously or not. There’s some sort of magical realism feel into it that somehow negates its more serious impact. The juxtaposition of Eugene Domingo’s character here and her portrayal at Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank simply 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 clearly 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 really 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 didn’t like it but it didn’t discourage me to appraise the feature as a whole because it is what it is. The inviting visuals were good during the first half but it was inconsistent for the rest of the film. The music rendered by Mr. Ryan Cayabyab may have been too forced when it was used but it definitely magnified each scene.

Overall, Barber’s Tales made a magnificent job in luring the audience off their couches and head off to the cinema. It is after all starred by Eugene Domingo and although the technical side of it 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

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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