Verdict: Essential Viewing

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 4.21 (12 ratings)

Genre: Drama

Writer/Director: Mes de Guzman

Cast: John Paul Escobeda, Je­remie Cercenia, Zanderson Vicente

Synopsis: Welcome to the hometown of Yoyong, Poklat, Boying and Uding. Here, there are no big shopping malls, no tall buildings. There are only huge mountains and vast fields as far as the eye can see, and clouds that seem to be always embracing the mountains. Life is simple for the four boys. They are content and very happy if they could eat three meals a day and are able to play. All of them, except for Uding who is an orphan, have left their homes in the mountains because they couldn’t bear the harsh treatment of their parents.

Yoyong, who is the oldest among the four and who is the self-appointed leader, dislikes Uding. For Yoyong, Uding is a burden and not an asset in the group. Uding is the smallest and weakest; in fact, he is always gets sick. To get by, they take on odd jobs —such as working in the fields and carrying vegetables in the market and assisting at the slaughterhouse.

Yoyong turns to Uding when he discovers that the latter can teach him to read and write. Uding becomes Yoyong’s key to writing to his beloved Aliyah who he wants to court, and who he often awaits at the playground whenever the group travels to the town proper.

The story tackles the poverty in the countryside, the hardships of young people left on their own, and the seeming impossibility of finding heaven on earth.

Trailer: Not yet available

Reviews: 

5.0          Rolando Tolentino (Member, Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino)

“At ito ang antas ng aking tuwang karanasan at pakikisangkot sa mga pelikula ni Mes, kahit pa walang nakakatuwa sa mga abang tauhan at higit pang pagkasadlak sa mas abang kalagayan ng mga ito.  Na may puwang para sa abstraksyon ng kwento’t pelikula, na hindi na lamang ito tungkol sa buhay ng mga tauhan kundi tungkol sa buhay nating lahat sa ilalim ng bumibigo’t nag-aabandonang estado.” (Read full review)

5.0          Noli Manaig (Film blogger, Closely Watched Frames)

Sa Kanto ng Ulap at Lupa is a film composed with calibrated compassion. It secretly wishes for a reprieve for its characters, but it concedes to the tenor of things. The final moments are oneiric and hallucinatory, swathed in muted light and thick fog: the boys are trudging up a grassy mountain.” (Read full review)

4.5          Ian Urrutia (Film blogger, Pinoy Cinema Tumblr)

Sa Kanto ng Ulap At Lupa offers a visual spectacle that’s hypnotic and beautiful, brooding and poignant, something that sweeps us all along and fades in the moroseness of tragedy and bleak promises.” (Read full review)

4.0          Don Jaucian (Resident critic, Pelikula Tumblr)

“Despite the gaunt promises of icy darkness, de Guzman finds light in the rhythm of their activities, sharing laughs in composing a romantic text message, finding a broken VHS player and salvaging it in the hopes of finally watching a ‘Chuckie Chan’ film, and even chatting during a pig-gutting session.” (Read full review)

4.0         Nel Costales (Film blogger, Sine Patrol)

“The best scenes show the kids at play or just plainly conversing with one another. They remind me of my childhood experiences and the stories told by our elders.” (Read full review)

3.5          Oggs Cruz (Film critic, Twitch)

“Instead of portraying children as passive victims of an unfortunate circumstance, they are shown to be more in control of their fates, capable to exist within penury without much tragedy, but handicapped by their pride and other vices.” (Read full review)

3.5          Philbert Dy (Resident critic, Click the City)

“I liked the film pretty much until the third, where the tragedy is made explicit, and things just get a lot less subtle. Still, this was a pretty good start to the festival.” (Read full review)

3.5          Carl Papa (Whatever, Carl)

“If you have seen some of the works of Mes de Guzman before, more or less you know what the movie is going to be like and what it is going to be about.  And that is where some of my reservation lies.  That said, there is no denying the beauty of how the movie was lensed.” (Read full review)

Capsules:

5.0          Nico Quejano (Member, Cinephiles)

“Wasn’t expecting to like this as much. Pero ang galing. Even the actors were amazing. Ang galing nung mga bata umarte. Kung hindi ko lang kasama yung isang bata manood maniniwala ako na mga ganun talaga sila. And the fact that they were not the stereotypical poor boys, they had some dignity, they were resolved, educated and aware, even self-aware, hindi sila nagmamakaawa o nagpapaawa, trying to live day by day. Isa pa na nagustuhan ko, hindi nakalimutan ng director na mga bata characters niya. He made them play, he made them laugh, he made them fall in love, na feeling ko is what has been missing with all the movies and TV shows with kids these days, we make them grow old so fast, they become so mature na mediyo annoying na. I think this is our version of Grave of the Fireflies.

5.0         Epoy Deyto (Film blogger, Kawts Kamote)

“Nakakahumaling ang mga kuha. Parang sabay-sabay kaming naha-high. Patungo sa langit. Paitaas. Paitaas. Nakakawasak kapag kinimkim.”

4.0          Eduardo Dayao (Film blogger, Piling Piling Pelikula)

“I love its sense of minutiae above all else, how it gives you a sense of how limited these kids’ options, but never makes the condition pitiful, evoking instead how wondrous and fulfilling a bowl of noodles, a snippet of a kung fu film, a bottle of soda, is. Raw, unflinching and effortless.”

3.5          Skilty Labastilla (Member, Young Critics Circle – Film Desk)

“This heartbreaker is technically polished and pretty much well-acted (Jeremie Cercenia, the boy playing Poklat, is a natural). But the best performance from the film is by a non-actor: the Bayombong skyline. De Guzman photographed the dancing clouds as if they are telling you something, and almost every other scene is presaged by images of the heavens, providing this otherwise harrowing depiction of rural poverty a poetic, almost ethereal quality.”