In Tagalog (90%), Mandarin & English with English Subtitles
Director: Wi Ding Ho
Cast: Bayani Agbayani, Epy Quizon, Meryll Soriano, Alessandra De Rossi
RunTime: 1 hr 33 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & Lighthouse Pictures
Official Website: http://www.pinoysunday.com
Opening Day: 16 June 2011
Synopsis: Overseas workers Manuel and Dado leave their idyllic seaside village in the Philippines to come to Taipei lured by the promises of money and a better life. On a Sunday morning after attending church, they unexpectedly witness a family drama across the street from where they are eating ice cream, where an expensive-looking, brand new leather sofa, is discarded on the sidewalk. They decide to bring it back to their ragged dormitory in their outskirts of Taipei so that they will be able to enjoy cold beers sitting on it at sunset, bringing back the feeling of being home in their Filipino village. Unable to afford any type of delivery service, they start to carry the precious sofa across town, on foot. Along this improbable and absurd journey, Manuel and Dado encounter different archetypal characters, such as those that are found in a globalized and industrial city, in often humorous and poignant scenes. At the same time, their struggles with infidelity and difficulties of leaving a family back home, all come to light..
Their exhausting journey comes to a climax at sunset when they face deportation because of a missed dorm curfew - all because of the heavy couch they do not want to let go of… Follows a magical scene by the riverside in which they finally smooth things out between themselves by singing and playing guitar under a star-studded sky. The following morning, the two friends wake up with their couch floating down the river. Although uncertain about what the future will bring them, there is one thing that becomes clear to them: no matter what difficulties lie ahead, they are ready for a new day, or a new life because of the courage and dreams that are alive in them.
Instead of asking ourselves why no local director had thought of making a comedy film based on foreign workers (this was a popular topic during the recent elections, no?), we shall instead discuss what a charmer this Taiwanese film is.
This is definitely not your usual Taiwanese production: The fact that it ninety per cent of its dialogue is in Tagalog tells you so. It also features a Filipino cast whose names we have problems pronouncing, and cameos by Taiwanese actors in blink and miss appearances. The premise is simple and effective – Two foreign workers Dado and Manuel discover a discarded sofa in Taipei city and what was meant to be a routine Sunday turns into a whimsical adventure.
Director Ho Wi Ding and his co writer Ajay Balakrishnan has concocted a delightful tale of perseverance and self discovery in this entertainingly enjoyable movie. It helps that the two leading men Bayani Agbayani and Epy Quizon have a charisma which is endearingly appealing. Agbayani’s portrayal of the more serious and responsible Dado is a nice contrast to Quizon’s take on the carefree romantic Manuel who just wants to go with the flow. The duo’s on screen chemistry is spot on, making us want to be part of this hilarious adventure of transporting the sofa back to their dormitory, just so that they can enjoy the night breeze in comfort – with beer in their hands, of course.
The leading men’s female co stars do a decent job of portraying workers trying to get by in a foreign land. Meryll Soriano plays a domestic helper whom the wedded Dado develops a relationship with. Alessandra de Rossi (you may remember her playing the lead role in Kelvin Tong’s The Maid some years back) takes on the role of a club singer Manuel sets his eyes on. Elsewhere, you may spot familiar faces like Joseph Chang, Bowie Tsang, Mo Zi Yi and Lu Yi Ching popping up in the least expected scenes.
Those familiar with Taipei’s sights and sounds will enjoy the unique cosmopolitan feel painted by cinematographer Jake Pollock. The smart choice of featuring a red sofa (it stands out nicely against the dusty backdrops of the city) on the protagonists’ road trip is also a testament of the filmmakers’ eyes for visuals. Watch out for a surreal scene where the two friends sing along to a cheerful tune while floating down a river on the sofa – it is one of those dreamlike sequences which we wish can happen in real life.
Malaysia born Ho made the wise decision to avoid the weighty issues of social commentaries on the unfair injustices the protagonists have to bear with in a foreign land. Instead, he weaves in everyday situations that audiences everywhere can identify with into this accessible 93 minute production. With a capable cast and an ingenuous visualisation of the screenplay, the director has made a highly recommended buddy movie which will has both mass and critical appeal. This work earned Ho the Best New Director accolade at last year’s Golden Horse Awards.
Essentially, this is a movie about the people we go through life with. Throw in sprinkles of fun and laughter, and we get an honest look at what we would do for the people we genuinely care about.
(A charming winner which will leave you smiling about life’s little pockets of joy)
Reviewed by John Li