Iti Mapukpukaw(The Missing): Movie Review

Iti Mapukpukaw (The Missing) Movie Review: Filipino's Finest

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What's expected and what's still striking are the visuals of "Iti Mapukpukaw". The animation and the craftmanship that went into the rotoscoping is something to behold. Yet what sets "Iti Mapukpukaw" apart is its ability to go beyond its visual allure and present a narrative that is a deep, emotional, and magical journey.

Eric (Carlo Aquino) is unable to speak with a missing mouth and uses a whiteboard to communicate with those around him. When his mother, Rosalinda (Dolly de Leon) urges him to check on his uncle, Eric, accompanied by his colleague Carlo (Gio Gahol), discovers a startling truth about his uncle's fate. Soon after this discovery, Eric encounters an alien from his past - the perpetrator of his condition.

Could "Iti Mapukpukaw" be hailed as the finest Filipino film of 2023? It comes remarkably close and for what we have seen, it is. What truly captivates in this film is its writing. Rarely do local releases boast such intricate and well-developed narratives with most falling short of delivering a fully fleshed out story. Despite a somewhat predictable twist, the tale it unfolds coupled with its pacing, is engrossing and complete. While the story may seem unconventional with its alien encounters and bodily anomalies, the execution, particularly in the realm of rotoscoping, is nothing short of breathtaking. The intentional use of lower-quality drawing and animation to Eric's flashbacks to his childhood adds authenticity and playfulness, echoing the innocence of childhood doodles. In terms of performance, the main cast shines, with the bond between Carlo Aquino and Gio Gahol standing out, showcasing true friendship and love amidst Eric's adversity. Surprisingly, the animation enhances rather than detracts from the actors' delivery, amplifying the impact of key scenes. In essence, "Iti Mapukpukaw" stands as a cinematic masterpiece, worthy of the acclaim it has received. While it may not have clinched an Oscar nomination, the collective effort of Carl Joseph Papa, the animators, the actors, and the entire team is commendable. It's a film that all involved can take pride in, representing the best of Filipino cinema in 2023.   

Rating: 5 reels

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