Film

Film

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Running the gamut from stark social realism to character-driven comedy to purgative religious allegory, Maryo J. de los Reyes’s Magnifico recalls the gleeful Technicolor dudgeon of Douglas Sirk’s oeuvre overlaid with a pointedly metaphysical luster. The title refers to a young boy (Jiro Manio) in the rural Philippines whose family is mired in poverty and bad luck. As his parents lapse into restless, resentful depression over the drudgery of their lives, Magnifico takes over the care of his cerebral palsy-stricken sister, wayward brother, and dying grandmother (Filipina screen goddess Gloria Romero). If Michiko Yamamoto’s screenplay overdoes Magnifico’s holy-fool virtue to the point of hysteria (e.g., his conclusive Christ-like elevation), de los Reyes’s fluid compositions, dead-on pacing, and knack for eliciting naturalistic performances make the story uncommonly cathartic.

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