Busong

A reliance on rituals, spells, stories, and incantations conjoins disparate characters in this scenery-rich head-scratcher set in the Philippines' Palawan province. A young man in a loincloth named Angkadang (Rodrigo Santikan) carries his sore-covered sister, Punay (Alessandra de Rossi), across forests and beaches throughout—Busong translates as "fate" or "karma"—in search of a shaman's cure. Along the way, the pair encounters a series of travelers, the first being a young woman (Bonivie Budao) with a sprained ankle and a beloved husband who was crushed after taking a chain saw to a consecrated tree. How the meaning of this and other vignettes contributes to what is later described as "The Epic of Angkadang and Punay" is obscured to the point of incoherence. More painfully clear is the thrust of an encounter between a native fisherman (Dax Alejandro) and his son with a white man and his hired goons on a remote sandbar; a Manila backpacker (Clifford Bañagale) in search of his roots is incorporated with more subtlety. Splendid vistas and sun scapes add mythic punctuation to the proceedings, but director Auraeus Solito (Tuli) generates too little of the magic that holds a story as tenuous as this one together.

 
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