‘Mañanita’ review: Silent at its best

Director Paul Soriano brings us a silent treatment of a well-known story of the ‘Mañanita’ song propelled by Bela Padilla’s most complicated role to date.

Mañanita is a story of an ex-military sniper who is honorably discharged and accepts a mission that will indefinitely change her life in the attempts to make ends meet. It is a quiet character study of when your life’s purpose is stripped away, but you still pursue it, only to realize that it could kill you.

This is not your typical action film. It is very silent and moving. There are no dialogues needed as you can all see the story deep within its astounding visual sequences. Director Paul Soriano put on all the efforts in the film as this is based on true events as seen on the news. You can see the inspiration of it in the film with everything it tells. This masterpiece is truly one you wouldn’t want to miss. It’s beyond what we typically see in the cinemas nowadays as it is creatively written in a good way thanks to the screenplay of critically-acclaimed filmmaker, Lav Diaz.

Bella Padilla is the perfect choice for the lead role. She is in her both good and complicated role because all of her scenes here showcases herself as a strong character who patiently waits, points a sniper, and submerged in a lot of beers and emotions. There are no spoken words—only ambient sounds. A very good background sound at that.

Even the color grading seems to be foretell the future of its character: almost monochromatic as the scene unfolds to a typical sunrise. The shots are carefully treated with good cinematography that fuses what Paul Soriano and Lav Diaz could actually craft together. It may not be a film for everyone but it somehow will inspire people with its deep silent treatment.

Mañanita is a local film that is so deep in silence and surprisingly great. Without a doubt, it’s an inspiring film that audiences deserve to see.

Directed by Paul Soriano and written by Lav Diaz. Mañanita stars Bella Padilla. Runtime: 100 minutes

‘First Love’ review: Refreshing love team leaves you aching

Paul Soriano’s romantic drama ‘First Love’ touches the viewers’ hearts with a refreshing team-up of Bea Alonzo and Aga Mulach’s refreshing teamup.

Like most tales of love, First Love marks an emotional journey between two kindred souls meeting in one fateful day. There’s Ali (Bea Alonzo) as the optimistic, free-spirited photographer and Nick (Aga Muhlach) as the typical, calculated and reserved businessman. Both of them have contrasting life philosophies. For Ali who’s diagnosed with a congenital heart disease, it’s about living life to the fullest by seizing each moment. While for Nick who seeks closure for his troubled past, it’s about reeling from the past to find peace in the present.

But ultimately the film’s message can be summed up in Ali’s mantra: “carpe diem” – to realize that the past is irreversible and the future is uncertain, but the present is something you can firmly grasp. As you go along their roller-coaster journey, the film redefines what ‘first love’ means. It is in Nick’s compassion that you’ll truly feel that there’s so much good in this world, that a simple act of kindness can go an extra mile and change someone’s heart in an unexpected way. With a love story that is so pure and beautiful, it’s not hard to surrender to this film’s charm.

First Love does not wallow in heartbreak but it rather focuses on the bittersweet happiness found in those painful moments, hoping that this silver lining will be enough to change the course of your life. The emotional highs and lows may leave you aching (in a good way) but what will prevail is the universal feeling of desire to live a life that’s filled to the brim. Through this way, this family-oriented movie also works as a wake up call.

Director Paul Soriano beautifully crafts the film with the help of a dynamic cast and awe-inspiring visuals (Vancouver is a perfect backdrop too). Muhlach still proves that he’s the leading man to beat while Alonzo solidifies her spot as this generation’s movie queen. Even Edward Barber has shown the potential to be the next big thing in the industry.

To cut to the chase, you know that the film does magic with its material if it hits you right in the feels. This tear jerker stirs up one’s emotion – it’s a heart-wrenching tale yet an avenue for salvation. First Love is something new for the hopeful romantics to savor.

5 out of 5 stars

Directed by Paul Soriano. Starring Bea Alonzo, Aga Muhlach, Edward Barber, Albie Casino, G Tongi, and Sandy Andolong. Produced by Ten17P, Star Cinema, and Viva Films.