Film Review: Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw


The Plot:
 “Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw” directed by Celso Ad Castillo started with Nanette (Vilma Santos) meeting Rod (Christopher Deleon) while vacationing in their rest house along the beach. It was clear to both that it was love at first sight but this instant chemistry ended when they discovered they are first cousins. Faith continued to play an important role to their initial attraction as Rod joined Nanette along with her parent to Manila where Rod was permitted by his parent to continue his study. Rod and Nanette at first decided to resist their feeling for each other by dating other people but their love for each other are more intense than what their mind dictates. The two started to have a secret affair culminating to a hot sex when they came back to the rest house when another summer arrives. As expected Nanette gets pregnant and the problem to expose, their taboo affair is ticking. Worst, Nanette’s morning sickness was noticeable to her suspicious mother played wonderfully by Lorli Villanueva. When finally Nanette’s family found out her condition, she was beaten by her angry father but she remained tight lipped to tell who impregnated her. As Rod tried to remained his calm, Nanette’s family locked her to her room until she’s ready to talk. Rod climbed to the balcony to speak to her and that’s when Nanette’s family discovered who is the father. As Rod came down to the balcony, he was cursed by both parents and was beaten by them as Nanette beg for mercy. Rod was hospitalized as his parent came from the province and beg for forgiveness to the angry Julio (Eddie Garcia), Nanette’s father. Julio was fuming and throws the couple out the house. He also mentioned that they are planning to abort Nanette’s baby. When Rod found out from his parents the planned abortion, he left the hospital and went back to his uncle’s house. Very timely, Rod arrives as Nanette together with her family was headed to the abortion clinic. With the help of two security guards, Rod was controlled as his uncle’s car passed him and Nanette cried for intervention. Rod followed the car and was almost successful as the car stopped for the traffic lights. But his attempt failed as the car continued its destination. The end.

The Review: The Catholic Church prohibits marriage between first cousins and it is considered a sin. Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw successfully tackles this topic with convincing scenarios and believable characters. Celso Ad Castillo’s style remained true to many films in the 60s with canned music and repetitive voice over by its two main characters. One scene you will hear Christopher narrates his feelings and the next scene it was Vilma’s turn to speak. Most of this narration or voice over while they are playing in the rain on the streets or on beach. This is the first film by Vilma Santos and Christopher Deleon and it was clear that the two have that chemistry on screen. The film ensemble was quite impressive starting with Eddie Garcia and Lorli Villanueva as Nanette’s parents. As Julio, Eddie Garcia was animated at times but his character balances out the mother role of Lorli Villanueva. Joseph Sytanco’s role as Nanette brother was minimal and he doesn’t have enough lines but his quiet scenes were effective. Johnee Gamboa and Odette Khan’s performance as Rod’s parents were excellent. The agony on Odette’s voice as Johnee, her husband begs for forgiveness on behalf of their son was very believable. The two main characters, Christopher Deleon and Vilma Santos obviously carried the film with surprising maturity. Considering this was their first team-up and both were very young. In 1975, both were still in transitions, from teenybopper stars of the musical era to serious actors. Christopher Deleon’s performance was quite impressive as the apologetic Rod, except for some scenes where you can see his nostril moves, he gave a very affecting performance. Vilma Santos equally balance the equation with a touching show of emotions that we seldom see in her early films that are mostly musicals, fantasy or comedies. Three scenes stand out. First was in the bus where she confronted her “Kuya Rod” to not to give-up on their relationship. Second when her parents caught them in the balcony. She begs them to stop beating up her “Kuya Rod.” And then finally, the driving to the abortion clinic scene, she cried her heart out begging them to stop and cried for help to her “Kuya Rod,” who was running behind and trying very hard to stop the car. Celso Ad Castillo successfully gave us a very moving film.

Even with the very annoying number of voice-over scenes, scenes that you will hear the two main characters talks but you will see them not opening their mouth, the film has so many good qualities that you will forgive these flaws. We probably attributed these flaws to the style of many films in the 60s and 70s. Ricardo David’s cinematography was excellent particularly the many scenes on the streets. You can see many spontaneous shots of people that were gawking at Christopher Deleon running like a maniac. David’s very intricate camera work inside the car, dinner table and at the living room while Nanette’s mother was playing piano adds to the intense mood of the film, this is despite some shot where you can see the shadow of the camera particularly when Christopher left the house because he can’t stand to see Nanette being slap repeatedly by her angry father. The film was fast paced, thanks to Augusto Salvador’s editing. There are many scenes where the background music matches the mood like the choir/choral-like music at the very end of the film but Ernani Cuenco used so many canned music that sometimes it was very distracting. Like the voice over style used by Castillo, the musical score used in this film was typical of the 60s and 70s. Even the excellent Lino Brocka film, “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang” used this kind of style. Overall, Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw was a superb film that highlighted the potential on screen chemistry and talents of the screen team of Christopher Deleon and Vilma Santos. For their fans, I would recommend to have a copy of this classic film. – RV (READ MORE).

“…Celso Ad Castillo: I see the movie in my mind even before I start shooting. I’m meticulous. I control everything on the set, even during post-production — from editing and music to sound. My audience knows my style. It’s like painting: You discover your style, then you do it. I caught “Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw” with Vilma Santos and Boyet de Leon on Cinema One the other day, and I clearly saw my own style, in terms of sensitivity, shots and drama. – Ronald Mangubat, Inquirer, 06/09/2007

“…The problem of love in Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw stems not from the lovers per se but from their ill fate as cousins. The factors are both socially dictated and morally stringent, situations that they cannot change no matter what they do. Even if they go on living together, they will still be hounded by the truth. Wherever they go, that truth cannot be proven false. Fate did two unpardonable things to them: bring them together and break them up. It is inevitable to question if it was their fault—or if their love was a fault at all, or if it was the society’s fault, for imposing the way things should be. The film makes a point of raising doubts on our moral attitudes and obligations, without telling us what is right or wrong but simply showing what happens when the doors of people’s minds are closed forever—when refusal to understand ruins happy couples’s lives. All desperation peaks in the end. The heartbreaking ten-minute chase stands as a powerful statement on what love can do in the harshest of circumstances. It is a perfectly executed sequence, that aside from showing the extent of possibilities that they are willing to get themselves into just to be together, it also delivers the horror of the couple’s misery, of the inability of their love to win –of losing each other forever.

First we see Nanette being dragged down the stairs by her father and brother as she begs for her child not be aborted. Rod, coming from the hospital, arrives and screams for mercy. Not to be moved by their plea, the father drives the car out of the house. Rod runs after it, limping, and chases the car in the middle of the road until he catches up. He hits the car, kicks it, and breaks the window. A lot of bystanders look after them. When he is able to jump into the rear of the car, he struggles to hold onto it, as the father willfully swerves the car to drop him behind. He kisses the window. Nanette struggles against her mother and brother holding her. She tries to touch his face in the window. And he falls—he falls hard on the ground. Getting up, he runs again. Levi Celerio’s “‘Yan Ba’y Kasalanan” plays in the background. Everything feels so real and timeless, it can only be real and timeless….” – Richard Bolisay, Lilok Pelikula (READ MORE)

“…Ad Castillo’s Tag-Ulan sa Tag-Araw (Monsoon Rain in Summer, 1975) is about a young man (Christopher de Leon) who dorms with his uncle and aunt and falls in love with his cousin (played by a waiflike Vilma Santos). Ad Castillo tackles the sensational subject of incest by framing the two lovers’ relationship as a kind of innocent affair, taking place in a countryside Eden. It’s the kind of hackneyed concept that really shouldn’t work; the result ought to be less like D.H. Lawrence and more like Emmanuelle. But Ad Castillo happens to have one of the most prodigiously talented eye in all of Philippine cinema, and the heedlessly lyrical manner in which he shot Tag-Ulan transforms softcore porn into something like art. Every rainfall, every shaft of light, every leafy shadow caught by his largely handheld camera makes you catch your breath; there is lovemaking without nudity, yet Ad Castillo shoots with such throbbing intensity you are nevertheless aroused…” – Noel Vera, Critique After Dark, 06 December 2012 (READ MORE)

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