santa santita‘s poster had its lead star angelica panganiban posing in a semi-Lolita vibe. the look was rather tame compared to its boldie counterpart, but its teasing value was enough, i guess, to let moviegoers in.
i was initially drawn to the film because it was directed by Laurice Guillen, whose work critics have usually commended. however, based on her latest performance in Noon at Ngayon with much-overrated Marilou Diaz-Abaya directing, i had doubts. i remember local filmdom’s nastier critics lauding both for their over-preachiness.
boy, they were right.
filmed in high-definition, in the always-scenic Quiapo, in rich, contrasty colors, and probably some of the better camera-work i’ve seen in recent local films, santa santita had a treasure in angelica panganiban’s virginal magdalene. as malen, she hesitantly took over her mother’s (hilda koronel) occupation as taga-dasal, while having mike (jericho rosales), a gigolo, as her lover-boy. miracle of miracles, her prayers were always answered, hence people always preferring her over the church’s manangs. hey, she can also do pray-overs and heal. with some guidance from an alcoholic priest (johnny delgado), and a nun (cherry pie picache), you have a pretty good passion play going on over here.
however, this film is just a quasi-clever attempt at bringing gospel stories to film, and it was too obvious. i praised the film early on since i sense a good focus, no annoying sub-stories, and apt character development. i wised up halfway, and started jumping over the gorgeous visuals, and thought that a video copy of this would not be so alien in a conservative catholic school video vault, just cut out the bed scenes.
note: i don’t believe i have an aversion of any sort to profoundly religious films. for example, knowing that Krzysztof Kieslowski‘s 10-part series, Dekalogs, were based on The 10 Commandments of God. did it stop me from renting out what i can of the videos? no. here we have beautiful stories of moral value, but of course, we’d rather have precise takes, or at least modern reenactments of the gospel. like we dont have too much of that already.