Written and Directed by Allison Barretto
CineFilipino Film Festival 2016
XXX relays the story of Lucia Versoza, a seamstress from Angeles City, Pampanga. Working her way to the top of the regional beauty pageants, she simultaneously calls attention to her own dress shop by showcasing the gowns she makes for herself.
What makes the film interesting is the fact that her story is not relayed first-hand. What the audience gets instead is bits and pieces of what has happened to her career through the rasping and static of voices of radio presenters. As it turns out, Lucia kept recordings of these broadcasts, and listens into them while she works in her dress shop.
Through the presenters’ rambling, the audience is taken through Lucia’s meteoric rise and eventual qualification for the Miss Universe pageant, up to her eventual downfall due to a scandal. The venomous gossip about her personal life has ensured that the life she knows is over, and humbly returns her to the place where it all began.
Lucia’s face is barely shown or given proper screen time in XXX. What is shown is a hollow shell: a shadow of what was before. As Lucia continues working in her shop, the only thing that keeps her company is the memories brought about by the people in the recordings: people who talk about her past self. A self that has already died.
Allison Barretto’s XXX is successful in showcasing the struggle of a person who has reached the stars, and fell crumbling down after. The protagonist’s attempt at burying herself with her sewing is the only compensation she has, since it was the thing she was absolutely best at. In fact, it is the only thing she can actually return to. The recordings she plays every day also proves to show that she still has a lot to work on when it comes to moving forward from her personal tragedy, and so she begins anew.