...i want to do before i die.
That's what the movie "100" was all about. It's the story of a young woman's journey with her family, friends, her pet, and with herself, after she was diagnosed to have terminal illness. The theme is somewhat similar to “Tuesdays with Morrie”, a play that tackles facing life as one is facing imminent death, but somehow this movie reached me in a way that the play did not.
And how is that?
It’s not because of the actors, for Bart Guingona and Miguel Faustman in the play are definitely better actors than some of the cast in the movie. Maybe there’s the factor of visual appeal as a play is limited by what can be put or conjured on stage whereas a movie’s possibilities are almost endless. For example, as I said before, one of my main complaints about the play is the preachiness. There were several instances when the script gave a mini-lecture to the audience on how one should live and what are the things in life that really matter. The movie is able to avoid the lecture but instead the viewers are brought on a tag-along trip as the main character lives her life, the remaining days, that is, to the utmost that she dreams of. It made me think, yes, if I were in a similar situation, I would do what she did, too.
And I think Mylene Dizon’s physique is just perfect for that role. Gaunt and willowy, she is grace and composure all throughout. No melodramas for her, only subtleness and quiet talking. That is the nice thing about movies, when the character needs to whisper, he/she really can whisper and the camera will capture it. A whisper on a stage play has to be just that, a stage whisper.
Another major difference between the plots of “Tuesdays with Morrie” and “100” is the context of the setting. “Tuesdays” is very American while “100” is very Filipino. I almost had goosebumps thinking, wow, a Filipino wrote this, galing. I think the screenplay was able to capture very accurately how Filipinos respond when a family member is diagnosed with cancer. I have seen those exact same responses (i.e. some amount of hysteria, getting second and third opinions, Chinese medicine, a desperate return to religiosity, pilgrimage to this and that shrine, faith healing, pray overs, and the like) in my own relatives and patients. And I’m glad an oncologist was on board in the making of this movie. It makes me wince when the production people do not bother to check if their medical data is accurate and they end up showing medical bloopers on film. Thankfully, not so for this film.
I also like the spic and span look of the movie, so in keeping with the main character’s personality, which is clearly obsessive compulsive as depicted by her very neat apartment and the no-nonsense handwriting on her perfectly-lined-up- yellow-post-its, and so in contrast with the malignant cells growing maniacally inside her body.
There are two scenes in the movie that stand out in my mind when all the other images have begun to fade. First is when the woman was serially drawing the curtains in her apartment. Her apartment was painted cream or was it white? The curtains were of the same color. The film showed her at one window drawing the curtain then she would fade and then she would be at the next window drawing the curtain and then she would fade and so on and so forth until all the windows had curtains drawn. The next shot showed everything in reverse. She was opening windows this time.
The other scene was the death scene. It was very subtle and suggestive. Very artistic. Before the death scene, we could see how her health was deteriorating and how she was finishing up her list of 100 things to do before the day. So towards the end, most of the shots were focused on activity around her bed, as those closest to her visited and spent time with her. Her high school crush/boyfriend, who was now a priest, came and gave her the sacrament of extreme unction. The next scene showed these people that she loved in the terrace and in the living room of her apartment, talking and doing the things of daily living, bathed in bright sunlight. From the shadows of her room a figure approaches the other people, the figure doesn’t go near the people but only looks upon the beloved ones one last time, a long time. The light and shadows were very suggestive. She was too weak to stand or walk in the last scene so it couldn’t possibly be her physical body that walked there.
After the long last look, the figure turns and crosses the front of the screen slowly and deliberately. It was quite eerie, that play of light and shadow and the figure crossing across.
Whew. At that point, I was actually closing my eyes, because I’m talawan when it comes to death scenes. But each time I opened my eyes to see if the scene was finished, the figure was still there, crossing ever so slowly, so now that scene is embedded in my memory.
The things I like least about the movie would be the bawling crying scenes of Marife, her secretary, as well as the scenes involving her pathetic married lover. I think they could have done better as supporting actors? Note: I remember the names Marife (the secretary), Ruby (her best friend), Emil (her ex-crush/BF?), Mae-an (her mom’s alalay) but I can’t remember Her name in the movie! -_-
Here are the 100 things she wanted to do before she died:
1. tell her mom
2. resign from her job
3. choose her coffin and wake music
4. overnight picnic at the beach
5. go skinny dipping
6. eat daing and kamatis
7. eat ice cream. lots of it.
8. break up an adulterous relationship
9. give away her material possessions
10. cook her favorite foods
11. find a new human for her cat
12. go to Hongkong
13. go to Disneyland
14. go to Europe (virtual only, via computer)
15. sing karaoke in a Malate bar
16. drive very, very fast
17. organize her photo albums
18. spend time with her brother
19. visit her old high school
20.spend time with her high school crush who had become a priest
21. plus eighty more things
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet in this longish movie review, is that the movie gave me a good laugh and a good cry as well. It was funny and poignant at the same time. Eugene Domingo and Tessie Tomas are comediennes actually as well as serious actors. That’s why their funny scenes looked so natural. Really so laugh out loud hilarious. As for the crying, well, it was for many things. For a well written script, that made me so glad. More movies like this and I’ll become a movie fan all over again. When I was a kid my fervent dream was to become a moviehouse owner so I could watch all the movies all the time. For superb acting. For laudable indie filmmaking. For fine artistry. For the beautiful Luce Auditorium. For the idea of making my own list of 100 things to do…
How about you? You wanna make one, too?