D: Atom Magadia
S: Tommy Abuel, Lotlot de Leon, Janine Gutierrez, Benjamin Alves, Sue Prado, Marita Zobel, Rolando Inocencio, Alex Diaz
The title of Atom Magadia‘s directorial debut translates to “gravity”. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough of it to pull us in. It opens with Tommy Abuel trying to shoot himself Deer Hunter-style to no avail. With that debilitating image, Dagsin goes off on a promising start but barely takes off.
Abuel delivers as Justino, a crippled war veteran going through spiritual decay after the death of his wife, Corazon. The same goes for Lotlot de Leon as his devoted foster daughter. The film excels when it highlights the strained relationship between the two. It plods when it goes into flashback, narrated in voiceover through Corazon’s diary entries. Benjamin Alves plays the young Justino. Janine Gutierrez, Lotlot’s real-life daughter, plays the young Corazon. We see what you did there. Alex Diaz receives introductory billing as Corazon’s younger brother. And while the onscreen siblings are established as half-American, the English dialogue is campy and almost off-putting.
Veteran Abuel makes this mixed bag watchable. His fiery performance adds much-needed emotional punch and intrigue to the creaky material. Dagsin marks Abuel’s first appearance in a Cinemalaya entry. If any hope can be derived from this, it’s that we should see him again more often.