One can say that CHILDREN’S SHOW’s (2014) story does not go too far; unless you say otherwise. It tends to be predictable, but as the film progresses, it takes you to a surprising quick turn and an unexpected denouement. It comes with intelligent screenwriting, brilliant cinematography, amazing young actors and excellent direction.
Al (Miggs Cuaderno) and Jun (Buboy Villar) are two brothers who work as pedicab drivers. Occasionally, they join street fights to earn additional income. They live with their grandmother (Gloria Sevilla), who manages the household by the meagre earnings her grandchildren gives, and contends to her son, Mario (Allen Dizon) who has abandoned them, but is always hitting them up for support.
Director Derick Cabrido transforms poverty porn into something worth seeing. With excellent cinematography, the CHILDREN’S SHOW manages to depict this kind of “pornography” into something relevant and sensible. Good camera work plays a stunning part in its entirety. I particularly like the scene where Al, Jun and Kara are in the shadows overlooking the yellow light of Manila’s Port Area. Despite the darkness, one can still feel their faces, and hear their emotions. Also, Cabrido strategically makes use of extreme close-ups to silently close some heavy scenes, banking on the actor’s emotions in the most subtle way.
Cuaderno as Al is wonderful. He punches spontaneous jokes that make the audiences cheer and love the crook-in-the-making in his character. But it’s Villar as Jun who is wonderfully exceptional. As the central character, one cannot help but empathise with him and unfeelingly comprehend his chosen climax.
The fight scenes, however, are somewhat misrepresented. I’m not sure if Cabrido wishes to celebrate its violence or condone its effects on the young. Well, it feels like the latter. Its discomforting, brutal, yet carefully shot and artistically lighted. This somehow presents a misaligned aspect in the film’s theme.
As a whole, CHILDREN’S SHOW is one decent entry this year. It explores the struggles of our young in a class where violence is the norm and where elders teach them how to fight back or die. Though gruesome and tragic, its delivery and performances are something to watch out for.
3.5 OUT OF 5