FILM REVIEW: RELASYON

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The Plot: A young woman falls in love with a married man, and they eventually try to live together — may be tame for Western audiences, but director Ishmael Bernal made this film for the Philippines, where divorce is forbidden at this time. Marilou (Vilma Sanders works as a guide in a Planetarium and has an on-going affair with Emil (Christopher de Leon) that neither her family nor friends can condone — Emil is married and has two sons. But when his wife leaves him, Emil and Marilou move in together, and that is when the problems start. She tries to make everything work out perfectly, and Emil, in turn, shows an arrogance that was quite hidden before. Given society’s disapproval of their arrangement in the bargain, their future together hardly seems bright. Ishmael Bernal was one of the most prolific directors in Philippine film history, he died in 1996 after making more than 50 films. – Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide

“In a time when the concept of divorce does not exist, much less imagined possible, we find Marilou, a planetarium guide who decides to pursue an affair with Emil, a college teacher sepatated from his wife. They seem perfect for each other, and soon decide to move in together. Their once happy affair turns sour as Marilou slowly discovers the real Emil, a chauvinistic, domineering, and emotionally abusive man who disctates everything to her, from how she should act and manage her life to the most inconsequentials details of running their house. They soon find themselves in an on-again, off – again relationship, with Malou going as for as laying a let’s meet only three times a week rule to protect herself.” – UP (READ MORE)

The Reviews: “…The notion of the martir resurfaces in Relasyon (1982), a stellar example of a mistress movie with genuine depth. It portrays Marilou (Vilma Santos) as not just a mistress, but also a servant for the chauvinistic Emil (Christopher De Leon). There is a poignant scene in the aforementioned: in spite of catering to her lover’s every need, she is still left alone in the house on Christmas Eve, because he really isn’t hers to begin with. Santos’ brilliant, appropriately emotive acting in the movie gave the star her big break. Filipino Department faculty member Jayson Jacobo, PhD expounds on Santos’ role in Philippine media. “[Her] middle period presents us a social sphere of material conditions which articulate the context of amorous situations that persuade a woman to enter and exit a relasyon.” Jacobo finds that more recent mistress films are devoid of the dramatic sophistication that these older films presented. He points out their key faults, saying, “These films of late are too concerned with the calisthenics of sexual encounter, the scandalous confrontation, the fashionable hysteria, the publicity of neurosis and the contrivance of normative resolution…” – Rissa A. Coronel, Katipunan The Guidon Magazine, 30 January 2013 (READ MORE)

“Dalawang magagandang pelikula ang sabay na itinatanghal ngayon. Ito’y ang “Relasyon” ni Ishmael Bernal at “Hubad na Gubat” ng baguhang si Lito Tiongson. Sa taong ito, tatlo pa lamang ang talagang namumukod tangi para sa amin. Ang “Ito Ba Ang Ating Mga Anak” ni Bernal, “In This Corner” ni Brocka at ngayon nga’y ang “Relasyon” ni Bernal na naman. Napakahusay ni Vilma Santos sa papel ng pangunahing tauhan, isang dalagang umibig sa isang may asawa. It’s one hell of a role and a heaven of a performance. Kasama si Vilma sa lahat ng eksena sa pelikula at talagang ito na ang pinakamabigat na papel na napaatang sa mga balikat ng isang local actress mula ng gampanan ni Gina Alajar and lead role sa “Salome”. This time, sigurado nang mano-nominate si Vilma sa Urian (ito lamang ang award na hindi niya napapagwagihan) at malamang na ang maging pinakamahigpit niyang kalaban dito ay si Nora Aunor na very demanding din ang role sa “Himala” (na si Bernal din ang direktor). Ito’y kung matatapos ang ECP project na ito sa taong ito na sa palagay nami’y hindi kahit gusto ng ECP na isali ito sa filmfest sa Disyembre. Dinalirot ng “Relasyon” ang lahat ng mga anggulong maaaring suutan ng isang babaing nagiging kerida. Maraming madamdaming tagpo sa pelikula, lalo na ang death scene ni Christopher de Leon na tuhog ang pagkakakuha. Bagay na bagay kay Jimi Melendez ang papel niya bilang torpeng talisuyo ni Vilma. Hit na hit siya sa audience. Hanggang ngayon ay patuloy na dumarag sa dito sa amin ang mga sulat na pumupuri sa acting ni Vilma Santos sa “Relasyon”. Sabi ni Nelda Santiago ng Arellano St., Marikina : “Napakagaling ni Vilma at kahit hindi pa ako nagiging kerida, para bang na identify ako sa kanya.” Sabi naman ni Hector Cruz ng 14 Malaya St., Q.C. : “Maraming nasasabi ang mga mata ni Vilma lalo sa mga eksenang wala siyang dialogue. Pati pilikmata niya ay umaarte. Dapat lang na magka award siya rito. Magaling din sina Jimi Melendez at Beth Mondragon.” Ayon naman kay H. Santillan III ng UP Village : Hindi kami fan ni Vilma pero kung ganito ng ganito ang performances niya, dapat siguro’y maging fan na nga niya kami. Tour de force ang acting niya at dapat ilagay sa textbook on acting. Hindi mapapantayan ang rapport nila ni Christopher de Leon.” May iba pang mga sulat pero hindi na namin masisipi sa kakulangan ng espasyo…” – Mario E. Bautista, People’s Journal July 1982 (READ MORE)

“24 years after its release, Relasyon remained relevant and fresh due to its social topic (the flight of many mistresses in society) and Vilma Santos’ performance in this film made it possible for everyone to sympathize their (mistresses) flight. Even critics agrred Here’s what one said: “…Napakahusay ni Vilma Santos sa papel ng pangunahing tauhan, isang dalagang umibig sa isang may asawa. It’s one hell of a role and a heaven of a performance. Kasama si Vilma sa lahat ng eksena sa pelikula at talagang ito na ang pinakamabigat na papel na napaatang sa mga balikat ng isang local actress mula ng gampanan ni Gina Alajar and lead role sa “Salome.” This time, sigurado nang mano-nominate si Vilma sa Urian (ito lamang ang award na hindi niya napapagwagihan) at malamang na ang maging pinakamahigpit niyang kalaban dito ay si Nora Aunor na very demanding din ang role sa “Himala” (na si Bernal din ang direktor). Ito’y kung matatapos ang ECP project na ito sa taong ito na sa palagay nami’y hindi kahit gusto ng ECP na isali ito sa filmfest sa Disyembre. Dinalirot ng “Relasyon” ang lahat ng mga anggulong maaaring suutan ng isang babaing nagiging kerida. Maraming madamdaming tagpo sa pelikula, lalo na ang death scene ni Christopher de Leon na tuhog ang pagkakakuha. Bagay na bagay kay Jimi Melendez ang papel niya bilang torpeng talisuyo ni Vilma. Hit na hit siya sa audience…” – Mario Bautista, Puna at Puri People’s Journal July 1982 (READ MORE)

“…Technically, the film does not rank high in Ishmael Bernal’s canon of films. The production design, presumably middle class, raises questions (especially about the fact that Santos can withdraw a thousand pesos from a bank at a moment’s notice:lower middle class persons do not have that kind of instant money.) The music is undistinguished, and the cinematography sometimes places the actors in shadows. There is one technical achievement worth watching for: De Leon’s death scene, covering more than one minute, is taken with one continuous shot (no cuts). Otherwise, the editing is spotty, especially with one sequence completely out of its proper place (before Santos says in one sequence that they have been together only for eight months, a sequence is shown in which she asks De Leon how many years they have been together, even allowing for hyperbole, that is too much of an exaggeration). Santos’ acting is adequate and extraordinary. De Leon gives another of his solid performances, though he could have worked harder to show how inconsiderate his character is. The supporting cast do not stand out; since two of them are supposed to be mistresses themselves, and the third loses much of her credibility when she starts lecturing on man’s selfishness…” – Isagani Cruz, Parade magazine, July 21, 1982 (READ MORE)

“…Makatotohanan ang akting sa pelikulang ito. Hindi sila caricature. Sila’y mga karakter na marahil ay mga kapitbahay natin. Muli na namang ipinamalas ni Bernal ang kanyang kakayahan sa pagpapagalaw ng mga artista. Hindi lang akting ang mapapanood mo. Ang nakikita mo ay ang tunay na takbo ng buhay. Nananatili si Christopher bilang isa sa iilan nating mahuhusay na kabataang actor. Makakalimutan mo na siya si Cris at ikaw ay ganap na mabibihag ng karakter na kanyang binubuhay sa aninong gumagalaw. Marahil, higit pa nating mauunawaan sana ang karakter na ginagampanan ni Chris kung nalaman natin kung ano ang kanyang propesyon at nagkaroon pa tayo ng ilang background ng kanyang buhay. Hindi tulad ni Vi na medyo kumpleto ang background…Napakadramatiko ang pagkompronta ni Vi kay Chris sa direksyon ng kanilang relasyon. Higit sa lahat, sa pamamagitan ng huling eksena, ang pagsasara ni Vi sa pinto ng kanilang bahay, ang pugad ng kanilang “relasyon”, inihayag ni Bernal na ang ganitong relasyon ay may hindi maiiwasang magwakas tulad ng sa tunay na buhay. Maaaring kamatayan o isang panibagong relasyon. Kung ang isang lalaki ay may-asawa, at mayroon na siyang relasyon o nagbabalak pa lang magkaroon ng relasyon sa ibang babae, dapat niya itong panoorin ng dalawang beses. Una, kasama ang kanyang misis at ikalawa, kasama angkanyang no. 2 o magiging ka-relasyon. Sa mga babaing katulad ni Vi sa pelikulang ito, mabuting panoorin ninyo nang nag-iisa ang pelikulang ito upang higit na maunawaan ninyo ang inyong relasyon o magiging relasyon.” – Mando Plaridel, Star Monthly Magazine July 10, 1982 (READ MORE)

“…The writers have fed significance into the conversations by filling them with popular ideas on marriage and relationships, engaging the viewers to respond with their own beliefs. There is irony though in the confessions of Emil and Marilou – in happier times – that each had been a better person upon being loved by the other. But their life together contradicted that statement. Her selfishness is revealed. “Ikaw lang ang iniintindi mo” he says and it uncovered his insensitivity. “Ako rin, may ego”, She replies. Vilma Santos confidently showed she felt the character she was portraying. Her depiction of feelings and emotions easily involve the viewers to share in her conflicts and joys. In this film, she has peeled-off apprehensions in her acting. Christopher de Leon has also been supportive in emphasizing the characterization of Marilou. He suitably complements Vilma’s acting. The director, Ishmael Bernal, displays his flair for taking scenes of Vilma putting on make-up. Unwittingly, he has suggested that whatever make-up is put on over adultery, it is still adultery.” – Lawrence delos Trinos, Star Monthly Magazine, July 1982 (READ MORE)

“…Sa kabuuan, mahusay ang pagsasalarawan ni Vilma Santos ng kanyang papel bilang Marilou ngunit hindi ito maihahanay sa ibang pelikula kung saan kinakitaan ang aktres ng kaibahan sa kanyang pagganap tulad ng ating nasaksihan sa Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon (1977) at Broken Marriage (1983). Samantalang ibayong talino naman ang ipinamalas ni Christopher de Leon bilang Emil. Naipahiwating lang sana ng maayos ang motibo ni Emil sa pakikisama nito kay Marilou. Hindi maitutulad ang aspetong teknikal ng Relasyon sa ibang obra ni Bernal. Ang disenyong pamproduksiyon ni Benjie de Guzman ay hindi kapani-paniwala. Ipinakitang mababa ang estado ng kabuhayan ni Marilou ngunit madalian siyang nakakuha ng isang libong piso sa bangko. Ang mga tulad nito ay karaniwang walang natatagong ganoong kalaking halaga. Halos hindi marining ang musika ni Winston Raval habang ang sinematograpiya ni Sergio Lobo ay kadalasang nababalot ng dilim. Makikita din ang pagkakamali ng editing ni Augusto Salvador. Sa isang tagpo ay ipinakitang walong buwan nang nagsasama sina Marilou at Emil at nang sumunod na mga eksena, tinanong nito si Emil kung ilang taon na silang magkasama. Ngunit sa kabila ng mga pagkukulang na ito, naging matagumpay pa rin si direktor Ishmael Bernal sa kanyang paglalahad ng isang pelikulang sumubok sa ating mga kaalaman at paniniwala.” – Jojo Devera, Sari-Sarng Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“Vilma Santos confidently showed she felt the character she was portraying. Her depiction of feelings and emotions easily involve the viewers to share in her conflicts and joys. In this film, she has peeled-off apprehensions in her acting. Christopher de Leon has also been supportive in emphasizing the characterization of Marilou. He suitably complements Vilma’s acting.” – Lawrence delos Trinos, Star Monthly Magazine Vol. 1 No. 10 July 1982 (READ MORE)

”Vilma Santos holds the first ace on acting this year with her terrific performance in Relasyon – the range is wide, the insight deep, hardly a false note in the entire performance – she was always in control, even when she seemed totally lost in her role…basta magaling si Vilma, tapos!“ – Ador Cs Tariman (READ MORE)

“…Like 1972 of the previous decade, 1982 turned out to be a repeat in terms of success for Vilma Santos. If critics took noticed in 1972, her performance in Dama De Noche, a decade after, the critics went gagah over her performance in ”Relasyon,” directed by Bernal. The film earned Vilma all the local best actress trophies from all award-giving bodies. Aside from this success, she will also be crowned as the box office queen of 1982 (the next year for her body of work this year) because of the financial success of her six films notably, “Sinasamba Kita” a film directed by Eddie Garcia and “Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan?’ directed by Danny Zialcita. Bernal on the other hand not only was credited for Vilma success for “Relasyon” he also received accolades for “Himala” a film by Nora Aunor, Vilma’s rival. Both “Himala” and “Relasyon” were considered two of Bernal’s signature films. In addition to this, he did two Marecel Soriano films, the comedy “Galawgaw” and the drama, “Hindi Kita Malimot” and finally another Cherrie Gil film, “Ito Ba Ang Ating Mga Anak…Bernal gave Vilma Santos her first grandslam best actress awards and consecutive Gawad Urian best actress (1982 and 1983). Their first film together was Inspiration (1972) and last was Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga (1989).” – RV (READ MORE)

“23 Years has passed since Vilma Santos did “Relasyon.” As we all know, this film gave her first grand slam best actress, winning four best actress from URIAN, FAP, FAMAS and CMMA (the four major award giving bodies that time). It is worth noting that the film has been successfully transferred into DVD and VCD and everyone can buy a copy, click here. Relasyon has been exhibited in many international film festival. Sub-titled, “The Affair” was screened in New York Filipino Film Festival with its rival film, “Himala.” Relasyon has been tested by times. All award giving bodies agreed. Vilma’s performance outscored the intricate and overrated performance of her rival, Nora Aunor…” – RV (READ MORE)

“Relasyon was the only film with three screenings at the on-going Pelikua at Lipunan last March 3, 2006. No other films hold this record. We were enthusiastic about the students who reviewed the film of more than two decades. Talagang relevant and timeless ang theme at plot ng nasabing pelikuka at maituturing na isa sa great films of Philippine Movie history. Before the screening of the film ay masaya kaming nag-uusap and at times our attention was called sa mga updates and or instructions ni Jojo Lim for the next group activity like March 8 sa U.P. sa Cine Adarna para sa Diwata Awards kung saan ay confirmed na darating si Ate Vi who is one of 4 distinguised honorees. Tumigil lang kami ng magsimula na ang screening. Wala ka ng makausap pa. Nakatuon lahat sa pelikula. Animo’y mga magagaling na kritiko ng gawad Urian na magre-review ng nasabing pelikula sa unang pagkakataon?! Hmp. For the film’s final highlight, we all sat in real silence. Motionless. Then, the expected tour de force/acting coup cum real drama essayed by Ate Vi. Her solitariness remained absolute in this particular scene with her heart wrenching monolgue. Then I thought I caught a glimpse of some of our co-Vilmanians wiping away “precious tears” in between sobs. Several more moments passed in silence. Tinapos namin ang panonood ng pelikula with an ovation. ’Di lang kaming mga Vilmanians ang pumalakpak! We hope ay nakapag-contribute ang mga Vilmanians in support of Mowelfunds worthy projects. Mabuhay Ms. Vilma Santos The Philippines Movie Queen For All Seasons. Mabuhay Vilmanians around the globe.” – June Sison, 5 Mar 2006 (READ MORE)

“…O, bakit parang lutang ka diyan? Porke’t naka-grand slam ka, feeling mo, magaling ka na?…” Bernal scolded Vi when she reported to the set of Broken Marriage, still high after her grand slam wins for Relasyon and a little unmotivated. – Richard Bolisay, Lilok Pelikula, 15 May 2010 (READ MORE)

“… Reportedly Ms. Santos, buoyed by the many acting awards earned by the previous film, was so eager to do well in the new production that Bernal got irritated, locked her in a bathroom, and delivered to her an ultimatum: she was not coming out till she got over her ‘hysteria.’ One sees what made the latter so successful, the same time watching this one sees why Bernal didn’t want to simply duplicate that success. Relasyon was a lean and elegantly told melodrama that took a sidelong glance at the institution of Filipino marriage; in Broken Marriage Bernal wanted to examine the institution directly, without the oblique glances. He didn’t want to film some doomed struggle to keep love alive but something less dramatic, far more difficult to capture: the aftermath of a protracted war, where the ultimate casualty is married love. He in effect didn’t want Ms. Santos at her perkiest and most energetic–he wanted her exhausted, looking for a way out, and to her credit Ms. Santos delivers exactly this with her performance…” – Noel Vera, Critique After Dark, 08 April 2012 (READ MORE)

“…Relasyon remains in the Philippines, on the ground of facts. But the film does not end with social criticism. Behind the well-meaning film problem hiding an everyday epic of real existing love, so how and if it is to have in the wrong world. Sometimes this gets epic train of the film with its stated educational content in conflict. Marilou suggests that the advice of the well-informed uncle in the wind, of course, is unreasonable. But it is just their stubborn irrationality adverse circumstances over which so occupies us for it. Therein also lies the quiet, growing with each minute of film Would this really banal figure. At some point, it is sufficient Vilma Santos watch when make-ups – and the heart wants to rip one…” – Nicholas Perneczky, Critic.de, 10 Sep 2014 (READ THE TRANSLATION)

“…In Filipino melodramas, the heroines often lean on against a hostile environment. Some no less combative women have created a permanent place in the film industry of the country…Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal devoted themselves repeatedly with a strong social and political consciousness of the popular form of melodrama. More than Brocka himself Bernal frequently focused on strong female characters that need to manage their lives under unfavorable circumstances. In his films female stars in the spotlight, without the problems of everyday life would go by the board. With Vilma Santos in 1982 he turned Relasyon, wherein the main character wants to escape from a stifling marriage and not only emotionally, but also legally reaches its limits (a year later with Santos Bernal turned the thematically similar mounted Broken Marriage). Was produced Relasyon of Lily Monteverde , who plays an influential role in the Philippine film industry today. Already at the beginning of the 20th century there were in the studios and production companies in the country powerful women who ruled with a firm hand and were addressed by their subordinates even as mothers. “Mother Lily” made his mark as a hard nosed business woman, often more economic than artistic interests followed, understandably, not just friends. The young director Raya Martin let her in his short film Long Live Philippine Cinema! (2009) even to death to save the Philippine cinema…” – Michael Kienzl, Critic.de, 10 Sep 2014 (READ THE TRANSLATION)

Related Reading: The First Grand Slam Best Actress in the Philippines

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