A mother and son wait for the start of their journey. Miles away another mother prepares for the end of hers. Shown parallelly are two narratives in writer-director King Louie Palomo’s Nene, a film on life and its all-encompassing stories. A touching and a believable depiction of what must be several people’s real-life experiences, Nene, however, comes across as a personal epitaph left for someone dearly loved. While the themes of the film go beyond the aforementioned ones, at the heart of it, Nene is a film meant to move its audience through the swan song of an octogenarian, an accomplished artist and a kind soul.
In its 16:44 minutes long timeline, editor Julian Figueroa has the tough task to not only maintain the pace but balance the screentime between the characters to ensure that their convergence occurs with a naturalness. Every character introduced, including the lost girl (brilliantly enacted by Markeisha Anne Gayoma) in the marketplace, adds to the texture of the narrative, or the characters, or both.
Nene (Flora Gasser) lives on her own. The vastness and emptiness of her long life is depicted only through the routine she follows and the fixtures she surrounds herself with, because there are no sun-kissed afternoons spent with friends or friendly neighbours dropping by to check on her. She makes the trips alone, be it to the market place or elsewhere. And with this, Palomo ensures the audience knows of Nene’s present lifestyle. We don’t know of her past, a deliberate choice that makes her life even more reflective, especially when juxtaposed with her daughter’s. Mercedes Cabral, who plays Nene’s daughter, is the other mother. Taking the bus ride with her son Eddie (Azmyth Jake Tanabe Hernandez) to come meet Nene, Cabral and Hernandez have enough scenes to pull off their relationship rather convincingly.
Cinematographer Brain Patrick Lim’s languid, long takes help in establishing the distance between the characters and not just physically. On one hand, as Cabral’s character talks to her son of his grandmother, we see the grandmother, isolated and lonely. The conversations are well-timed considering how an aged Nene fumbles with her forgetfulness, but there is a much younger life, her grandson who has a clearer picture of her in his mind. The bus journey is crucial too; it provides the time for the mother and son to bond over their Nene, a woman whose artistic accomplishments take up most of the space in her house.
If the acting alone isn’t good enough, Matthew Chung’s composition certainly makes up for the missing elements of the story. As Nene picks up the paints for her canvas, her life and feelings to be summed up in one frame, the daughter and grandson arrive home after an arduous journey. Bringing all the three characters together, Palomo, yet again, through simple storytelling, achieves a touching moment that brings the audience closer to this family.
There are several more subtexts to Nene, from the religious sentiments of the protagonist to her regrets, but set in the Philippines, this film is just a beautiful tale of a life lived and forgiven, but not forgotten.#ShortFilmReview: Nene: Her life was summed up in one canvas. Click To Tweet
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Nene: A Moving Tribute To Someone Dearly Loved