Big Boy

Big Boy


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Watching Filipino film Big Boy is like flipping your way through an album of photographs that belongs to a family you are not familiar with - or watching snippets from a box of home movies that you picked up at a carboot sale. Set ups and situations give you a good idea of how everyone is related but, though their essence remains, the details are gone. You are left to overlay your own narrative on the images and to find your own connections and resonances.

One imagines the same sort of thoughts must have gone through director Shireen Seno's head as she wrote and directed this film. She grew up in Japan, the child of Filipino parents but here imagines the childhood of Julio in the Philippines of the 1950s.

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The Big Boy (John Lloyd Evangelista) of the title starts off very young, with parents who are so desperate for him to grow tall that they stretch him each day and dose him on cod liver oil - a liquid that takes on almost magical properties through the course of the film. Daily he stands, arms outstretched, Christ-like in the sun - another manoeuvre that his mother is sure will result in growth, while his father hopes a clothes peg with 'westernise' his nose.

Elsewhere, we see him interacting with other children, while shadows of the US in the form of air drops and medicine - all with strings attached - lurk on the fringes. There is nostalgia here but beneath the softly shot exterior, there's also a sense of a country striving to stretch itself beyond the confines of American influence. Seno is interested in memory and experimentation, ditching traditional narrative in favour of a Super-8 stroll through the echoes of the past. The colours are golden, the images fleeting and the whole is best enjoyed as a meditative artwork more than a story.

Reviewed on: 05 Jul 2013
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Little Julio's family try hard to make him grow bigger.

Director: Shireen Seno

Starring: Ian Lomongo, Pam Miras, John Lloyd Evangelista

Year: 2012

Runtime: 89 minutes

Country: Philippines


EIFF 2013

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Big Boy