A Toy In The River

****

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

A Toy In The River
"Though dressed in the detritus of the modern era, it is a tale sufficiently plastic that its flotsam and jetsam could be substituted for any cargo discarded."

"My father used to say that the river is a bridge to the afterlife" are the opening words to the film, and so it proves. A risky proposition is met with the advice to "just be furtive enough", but the lines around criminality are not so easily drawn.

The river absorbs all. The days of luckless fishermen. The litter of shoplifted snacks. A triceratops taken by a truant. The thief, drowned.

Dreamlike in the deadlands, there is much to distress. Beyond thematic weight, the squeals of pig and a roasting carcass may dismay. The dead are as hungry as the living, but the world provides differently. rA child as protagonist gives us room for exposition, much needed where the rules are so different. The revenant is ruler here, more mythical than Colonel Kurtz, but no less fearsome in his hut at the edge of reason.

The clocks bear strange angles, and at the sacred stone there is water enough to slake the thirst of even ancient mariners. Under a crown of leaves and from the burning chair does judgement come and go. On this island of the lost, strewn with the litter of the living, our protagonist faces a spiritual test.

It is a compelling one. Though dressed in the detritus of the modern era, it is a tale sufficiently plastic that its flotsam and jetsam could be substituted for any cargo discarded. That universality of translation is not quite matched by the title. Kawatan Sa Salog is 'Thieves On The River', but I suspect there's greater import within the contexts of Filipino mythology. It matters less when a film succeeds as well as this does. Alphie Velasco has created something fabulous, literally so, a tale of underworlds and quests for redemption that works on either bank of its Styxian boundary. The Waters of Lethe would wash from you memory, but I instead ask that you remember this.

Reviewed on: 09 Oct 2021
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A boy steals a toy dinosaur and runs away from home... and into trouble.

Director: Alphie Velasco

Writer: Alphie Velasco

Starring: Marc Felix, Kyle Kaizer, Lui Manansala, Rob Roberto, Atanacio Rodavia

Year: 2020

Runtime: 19 minutes

Country: Philippines

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