Adela, Art-Perfect Snapshot of Community in Flux
Although its feverish opening sequence—in which a prostitute gives birth in the middle of a crowded, noisy slum street—promises a certain measure of sensation in its treatment of a marginalized community, Adela soon swaps the hysteria for a tone of cool contemplation. A day in the life of an ex–radio star on her 80th birthday, Adolfo Alix Jr.'s film follows its lonely, battle-scarred heroine (Filipino screen legend Anita Linda) on her quotidian rounds through Manila's soon-to-be-demolished Bernardo dump. Leaving her tin-roofed shack, Adela gets a manicure, visits her son in jail, and finally stumbles on a karaoke party that's the closest she gets to a birthday celebration. With its art-perfect snapshot of a community-in-flux, Adela calls to mind Pedro Costa's similarly rigorous slum-life portrait Colossal Youth. But whereas that Portuguese film is a prolonged immersion in its own marginalized setting, Alix keeps his incurious distance. Despite the general credibility of this portrait of a transient town—complete with impeccable long-shot images of Bernardo's impending destruction—and a game effort by Linda, the film feels a little too removed, preventing our intimacy with Bernardo life and one of its central figures.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.