Imbisibol Movie Review: Simplistic, Realistic, Impressive

Director: Lawrence Fajardo
Screenplay: Herlyn Gail Alegre and John Bedia
Cast: Ces Quesada, Allen Dizon, JM De Guzman, Bernardo Bernardo, Charlie Davao
Rodel looks out the window - Imbisibol

Imbisibol is a gripping tale of undocumented Filipinos living in Japan.

It depicts the struggles of Pinoy workers as they try to make a living while making sure that they are not found out by immigration and deported back to our country.

Each character tells a story that many of us can identify with, as we for sure, are related to at least one person who is or has been to Japan to work.

The plight of Pinoy overseas workers

Benjie is the typical hardworking Pinoy who juggles two jobs so he can send money to his family back home.

He works at a factory during the day and at a club at night. Because of that, he finds it difficult to stay awake at his day job. He’s been caught sleeping on the job several times already and has been told to just quit if he continues sleeping while on duty.

But he’s got a bigger problem. His lover, Edward, was apprehended by the police at the night of his surprise birthday celebration.

Benjie is unable to do anything.

Manuel is a male entertainer who’s struggling to make money. Being older than his contemporaries, he finds it extremely difficult to get customers at the club he works in. To make some money, he gambles. But his luck seems to have ran out as he constantly loses and just gets in deeper debt. Even his attempt at prostitution didn’t go well so he decided to approach the one person he knows is always willing to help: Manang Linda.

Linda is the wife of a Japanese citizen. She’s not an illegal alien but she helps them out by letting them rent a room in their apartment. She also assists Pinoys who want to work in Japan by lending them money.

She’s caring and well-loved by our kababayans but her kind deeds endanger the very thing that’s sacred to her: family.

Her husband wants her to evict the Pinoys because he is worried they might get them in trouble.

One of her tenants, Rodel, is father to a young girl back in the Philippines. He works at a lumberyard and was offered a promotion, much to the dismay of one of the other Pinoys, Dennis.

Dennis is out to make things difficult for Rodel. And although he tries his best to stay away from trouble, Dennis provokes him and they get into a fight. Rodel accidentally kills Dennis.

Out of fear, Rodel flees the scene of the crime. He goes home to gather his stuff so he can run away but as he was leaving, he saw the cops approaching.

Scared and confused, he goes inside Manang Linda’s house, where he meets Benjie.

He barged into each room, frantically looking for a way out, much to the confusion of the house owner.

Rodel admits to accidentally killing someone and Manang Linda goes into panic mode. She can’t let the police find Rodel inside her home. The cops knock on her door and Manang Linda doesn’t know what to do.

Rodel finally escapes through a window but the cops see him and run after him.

Simplistic, realistic, and impressive

Devoid of intense scenes that are very typical of melodramas, Imbisibol still managed to keep audiences at the edge of their seats. Impressive feat.

There were no slapping or confrontations but there was not a dull moment. The story line was crafted intelligently, thus making the dialogues interesting.

One very notable quality of the film was that it was so gloomy. There was a sadness throughout the entire film; a sense of foreboding.

You know that something bad’s going to happen. You just don’t know when. And when it does, it makes you gasp. You’re caught off guard, even though you know it’s bound to happen. And when it does, you’re just as scared and confused as the characters.

What I like a lot about the film is it doesn’t attempt to be anything more than it is–or what it should be. It’s simplistic and realistic. And that’s where its appeal lies.

Technically, the film was very good. I felt it had a nice indie appeal to it. The utilization of long shots worked really well for me. It helped establish the mood for me. No wonder Boy Yniguez won for Best Cinematography. The score was also very good. Like I said, the movie felt gloomy all the way and I guess it’s partly due to the beautiful score.

All in all, Imbisibol is a really good film (and a big winner at the awards night too). Over the past few months, I’ve rekindled my love for movies and movies like this are a nice reminder that  the enjoyable films aren’t only found in the mainstream. They should make more films like this. It’s just a little disappointing to see not so many people in the cinema when I caught this flick. But it’s a great start. Sinag Maynila has done an awesome job in giving us Imbisibol and four other relevant and beautiful films.

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