Barber's Tales (Mga Kuwentong Barbero): Movie Review

Barber's Tales (Mga Kuwentong Barbero) Movie Review: Timely As Ever

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Although we may have arrived late to "Barber's Tales", the film remains as timely as ever, having been released in 2014. As the saying goes, something can be old can still be timeless and this film is one of those. In the Philippines, "kuwentong barbero" means to create fake stories, but don't be deceived by the film's playful title. The narratives woven by the barber in this film are hard-hitting truths that are now often downplayed and being erased in contemporary times.  The drama here was delivered without any innuendos or flair but hard-hitting regardless.

Set against the backdrop of the 1970s in a remote Philippine village during Martial Law, "Barber's Tales" tells the story of Marilou (Eugene Domingo), who inherits her late husband's barber shop. Far from earning respect and trust in her male-dominated community, Marilou is met with laughter and immediate skepticism about her abilities. However, as she unravels the secrets within her midst, Marilou undergoes a transformative journey, discovering the true meaning of freedom and liberation.

Eugene Domingo takes center stage, shedding her boisterous and loud comedic persona for a delicate, intimate, and powerful performance. She is the heart and soul of the film as she perfectly delivers a poignant portrayal of a submissive wife's evolution into an independent woman. if we could nitpick, the muted sepia grading wasn't to our taste but it is an extremely minor annoyance. Much more important was its narrative which is set against the backdrop of a society entrenched in patriarchy and an oppressive government. "Barber's Tales" delivers a powerful and unique message on women's empowerment that remains relevant even a decade after its release and five decades since its period setting. Sadly, the film's still resonates with the current political and corrupt climate of the country in 2024. Jun Robles Lana weaves a seemingly simple tale within a simple village, employing simple play of words. Yet, the film's simplicity belies its depth, thought-provoking nature, and enduring importance for Filipinos even today.

Rating: 5 reels

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