Verdict: Essential Viewing

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 4.50 (24 ratings)

Genre: Drama

Director: Loy Arcenas

Writer: Rody Vera

Cast: Fides Cuyugan Asensio, Shamaine Buencamino, Tony Mabesa , Raquel Villavicencio, Art Acuna, Diana Malahay, Joaquin Valdes and introducing Jhizhelei Deocareza

Synopsis: The film follows aging former opera star Celia, who fills her days by taking care of her senile older brother Gaspar and maintaining their crumbling family home. Her wastrel son Mombic returns home from Davao, ostensibly to fix his documents as he awaits a trip to Dubai, but it seems that he has other things on his agenda; plans that become clear when Gaspar’s daughter Raquel returns from the States to visit her ailing father. (From Click the City)

Running Time: 103 mins.

Trailer: 

Reviews:

5.0        Oggs Cruz (Twitch)

“The film is marked with disciplined craftsmanship, a rare commodity in a filmmaking culture that has become too forgiving of lazy, careless and depthless technical work. The amazingly tight screenplay, concocted by playwright Rody Vera, is humorous without going overboard.” (Read full review)

5.0        Philbert Dy (Click the City)

“Rody Vera’s script is ridiculously good. It might just be one of the best scripts that I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness unfold on screen. The film soars effortlessly through tones of dark drama and comedy, fully dissecting the life of a family caught between a yearning for former glory and the impulse to just leave it all behind.” (Read full review)

5.0        Noli Manaig (Closely Watched Frames)

“Arcenas’ Niño depicts the decline of an aristocratic family with great flair. Neither like Ozu’s films on the theme of family dissolution, nor Bela Tarr’s own brooding take, Almanac of Fall, Niño occupies a middle ground: Equal parts intrigue and grace.” (Read full review)

5.0        Mario Bautista (Showbiz Portal)

“This film is a touching textured exercise in nostalgia with very human characters whose deep dark secrets are gradually revealed. It’s to the credit of the astute screenplay that we sympathize with them even if they each have their own flaws.” (Read full review)

5.0        Nel Costales (Sine Patrol)

“I consider scriptwriter Vera’s contribution to be equal, if not greater, to that of Arcenas’. His script and dialogues are truly vivid and memorable. He has the ability to make the audience feel and smell the characters.” (Read full review)

5.0        Jose Javier Reyes (Yahoo)

“It is a tribute to an age lost, innocence forfeited — and even the genteel manners that once characterized the elegance of our grandparents in years gone by.  It is also a showcase for the brilliant performances of Art Acuna, Sharmaine Centenera-Buencamino and Racquel Villavicencio.” (Read full review)

5.0        Manuel Pangaruy (IndioCine)

“Sa kabila ng pagkakadikit ng pangalan ng direktor at scriptwriter nito (o maging ang cast, Fides Cuyugan-Asensio, Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino, Joaquin Valdes, atbp.) sa mundo ng teatro, hindi ko nakita kahit kusing ang pagiging stagey. Matapang din ang produksyon sa pagkakaroon ng pelikula na tumalakay sa isang topic na hindi masyadong napapasadahan ng ibang filmmaker.” (Read full review)

5.0        Marijoe Monumento (Pinoy Weekly)

“Sa matapat na paglalahad ay nangahas ang pelikula na pasadahan ang mga isyu ng tradisyon, relihiyon, pulitika, seks, at sekswalidad. Nagtatagumpay ito sa matingkad at nakakukumbinsing pagtalakay sa bawat isa nang hindi nagsesermon o nagiging bulgar.” (Read full review)

5.0        Ariane Astorga (Candid Headlines)

“The film’s winning moment was during the final tertulia (like a party and operatic concert) arranged by Lola Celia in the hopes of awakening Gaspar from his comatose. Such an audio and visual feast, that last sequence. From the set to the costumes and the song performances, it was as moving as it was solemn and grand.” (Read full review)

4.5        Carl Papa (Whatever, Carl)

“The main asset of the movie was that it was written well.  The interplay of dialogues was perfect, and nothing felt forced.  It was a superbly made movie though with some reservations on the sound and the stage-y camera angles and movements.  But all in all, it was pure joy.” (Read full review)

4.5        Mental Clutter

“Arcenas did a great job with this film, and it is his first! Honestly a great family movie; very sensible, true, and always relevant as long as there are families like the Lopez-Aranda family.” (Read full review)

4.0        Eduardo Dayao (Piling Piling Pelikula)

” Fides Cuyugan-Asensio is indomitable as the lapsed diva and her temperament becomes the film’s: skittish, fractious, wistful, elegant, and just the tiniest bit cuckoo.” (Read full review)

4.0        Scud in Real Life

“The film is a great ensemble piece. The acting and ‘batuhan ng linya’ between and among the characters is probably the best I’ve seen in the festival. They don’t overdo it. Tamang-tama lang ang timpla.” (Read full review)

3.5          Tessa Maria Guazon (Young Critics Circle)

“In many ways, this personification of the house in Niño is both weakness and strength. We long to witness the house but it is only after much contemplation that we realize that its deliberate, material absence bespeaks the fate of the remaining generations of the Lopez-Arandas.” (Read full review)

3.5          Sylvia Mayuga (GMA News TV)

“This is a shapely tale with fine performances and outstanding musical moments, but it’s a tad too rich in parts. Some tertulia numbers are overlong. There are also too many leitmotifs, like the incest angle and the last-minute revelation of Raquel’s son’s homosexuality, as the film runs out of room to flesh them out more credibly.” (Read full review)

3.5        Don Jaucian (Pelikula Tumblr)

“Loy Arcenas’s Niño, the unexpected gem of this year’s Cinemalaya, bulldozes preconceived notions of the Filipino family drama in many subtle ways. It successfully fuses irony, comedy and melodrama without resorting to the usual histrionics and platitudes.” (Read full review)

Capsules:

5.0        Skilty Labastilla (Young Critics Circle)

Niño is a sumptuous feast of a movie, with nary a false note throughout its 103 minute-running time and peopled with pulsing three-dimensional characters portrayed by a terrific cast. Here’s hoping that Arcenas will stay in the Philippines for good and that Vera will write more film scripts.”

5.0        Lyndon Maburaot (Cinephiles)

“Is it really a first effort?”

5.0        Json Javier (Cinephiles)

“Ensemble cast was to die for. And I had the good fortune to watch it with the lustrous Ms. Fides Cuyugan-Asencio who was brilliant in the said film.”

4.5        Ian Urrutia (Pinoy Cinema)

“It’s amusing how Loy Arcenas employs such a masterful approach and sophistication on Niño—a deeply lyrical film that documents the struggle of a once-rich and politically powerful family trying to pick up what’s left of their remaining glory. Playing up to his directorial vision, Arcenas turned Rody Vera’s powerful screenplay into subliminal pieces of poetry, tragicomedy, opera music and melodrama while managing to tie it in one neat package.”

4.5        Adrian Mendizabal (Auditoire)

“Campy shit + opera ♥. May potential maging classic.”

4.5        Nico Quejano (Cinephiles)

“Husay!!! Tumi-theater ng konti, pero forgivable. Ngayon lang ako nakarinig ng palakpakan sa Greenbelt. and people stayed for the end credits, pero marami pa rin umalis.>”

3.5        Jethro Koon (Cinephiles)

“It’s good and I liked how kahit maraming characters, nagawa na nagkaroon tayo ng investment sa bawat isa, na namomoblema tayo sa paroroonan nila. Pero, hindi siya ‘impressive’. By that I mean, hindi siya super duper tumatak sa isip/damdamin ko. Hindi ako lumabas sa sinehan na di mapigilan ang sarili ko sa pag-diska(s) ng intricacies niya. Kaya hindi umabot sa 4.”

3.5        Sanriel Ajero (Another Sani Day)

“Hands down best moment – ‘Paabot nga ng patis.’”