Movie Review: 'Ang Babae sa Septic Tank'

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The moment the movie started, we immediately noticed the low-def quality of the film. We were sitting in the lower front of the movie house like we always do, and we can see the picture pixelize.

It was our first time to watch an independent film on the big screen. It's distracting at first. But later we got used to it. And we started to appreciate the story.

Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank Plot Summary/Synopsis


Here is the plot summary/synopsis of Ang Babae sa Septic Tank from the official Cinemalaya website:

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank chronicles a day in the life of three ambitious, passionate but misguided filmmakers as they set out to do a quick pre-prod at Starbucks, a courtesy call to their lead actress, Eugene Domingo, and an ocular inspection of their film’s major location, the Payatas dumpsite.  Director Rainier (JM de Guzman), Producer Bingbong (Kean Cipriano) and Production Assistant Jocelyn (Cai Cortez) are well-to-do, well-educated film school graduates who are dead set on making an Oscar worthy film. 

They believe they have a winning script, the energy and the drive to make their dreams come true.  Like most filmmakers they know, they have devised a screenplay that will show the real essence of our culture: poverty. 

In the course of one day, they brainstorm and exhaust all possible treatment of their project: the story of Mila (Eugene Domingo), a mother from the slums, who out of desperation to survive, has sold her child to a pedophile. 


As they discuss the possible executions of the story, the movie-within-a-movie gets reborn in Jocelyn’s imagination several times.  As a gritty no frills neo-realist film, as a glossy musical, as an over-the-top melodrama and as a docu drama using non-actors.

For their last task of the day, they visit the dumpsite for the first time.  As filmmakers gunning for authenticity, they get excited with the ”beauty” of the squalor around them.

Soon enough, they are faced with reality as they come face to face with the real effects of their chosen subject.  Ang Babae sa Septic Tank is a comedy about misguided ambitions, the art of making art and the romanticization of poverty.

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank Full Trailer


Here's the full movie trailer of Ang Babae sa Septic Tank:


Movie Review: Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank


We watched the movie because we were intrigued. Who would not be? It has an unusual title, the movie trailer feature Eugene Domingo saying "tae,"  and it got the most nods in the Cinemalaya awards.

Yet we came out of the movie house feeling the movie is too short. Bitin. It's not actually short. It's just that some scenes (particularly Sequences 34-40 of the movie Walang-Wala) is shown again and again, though in different interpretations, which makes us feel nothing much really happened.

It's not as compelling and intriguing as we expected it to be. The issue about poverty and prostitution is already overused.

The film must be interesting for movie makers, because it presents how making a movie is no simple task. And it presents the dangers of making an independent film in the slum areas, which is the climax of this movie.

The most burning question among viewers, "Did Eugene really ate poop in the movie?" is answered in the last part of the story. I don't want to tell if she really did because it is really the selling point of the movie.

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank isn't really revolutionary. It's just telling a story.

A few more notes:
  • Jocelyn didn't have much dialogue in the movie. She didn't need to have one.
  • Did Eugene Domingo really own that mansion with all the cooks and assistants?
Ang Babae sa Septic Tank is directed by Marlon Rivera and written by Chris Martinez.

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