‘Island’ So Soft, So Real It Will Touch Your Heart

Writer/director Martin Edralin’s “The Archipelago” is a “small,” devoid of spectacle and flash, that could be overlooked in a cinematic environment that thrives on “solid” productions. sure” of the company.

There’s a time for fun popcorn movies, but there’s also a time for movies like “Island,” which feels like a welcome breather. This is one of the best movies of the year.

Rogelio Balagtas plays Joshua, a middle-aged man who lives in Canada with his parents and works as a cleaner. He is painfully introverted and keeps his loneliness to himself. Only when he prayed the evening himself could he express his inner sorrow.

As his father’s health worsens, Joshua gets help from the arrival of his cousin Marisol, played by Shelia Lotuaco, who is easy to laugh at, who comes to live with him and take care of them both. . Marisol succeeded in breaking the habit of her loved ones and revealed the same vulnerable side as Joshua.

There are so many moments here that feel so real and tender. I never questioned the plausibility of the screenplay, which I found strangely vivid and direct. Edralin’s film is very sweet, not forced and light.

Unlike most movies, whose plot and character motives are so obvious, “Islands” doesn’t tell us who these characters are, but shows us.

Joshua smoked in secret, prayed privately and was kind but firmly refused any offers from his colleagues to join them for lunch. Balagtas’ characters and performances always feel authentic. Looking at the shining Lotuaco, being such a welcoming person, I immediately understood why Joshua had changed so much while sharing space with her.

Joshua’s father Reynaldo (Esteban Comilang, in an affected shot) has an intro that I love: while Reynaldo isn’t performing anymore, he’s still dressing up as Elvis Presley to visit relatives.

This will sometimes be too real to be uncomfortable for some, as some scenes offer a surprising amount of realism. While not an illustration-style movie, Edralin does indeed hint at the passage of time in a scene where we watch a microwave perform a one-minute cycle in real time.

I’m not sure where “Islands” will go for a long time, as there are no plot plots, dramatic moments or formulaic brushstrokes. What this film generously offers is refined honesty. Joshua is in some ways like a child but has been traumatized by life, a quality Marisol recognizes in him and in herself.

The ending scenes are epic in what they portray, what the characters can and can’t say to each other and in the final moments we see how Marisol’s companionship impacts readiness levels. Joshua’s openness.

These final moments are important, as we are seeing Joshua no longer the person we originally met, because of Marisol, and because the pain he endured and survived has made him braver. .

The technical aspects are all professional and well executed, but it is the performances, script and steady direction that stand out. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie with characters I recognize from life who feel like real people rather than a writer’s creation.

“Islands” loves its characters and I feel the same way. I won’t forget this. It made me so emotional.

Five stars

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