It Deserves to Be Seen: PIETA with NORA AUNOR and ALFRED VARGAS

Saturday, December 30, 2023


I distinctly remember watching re-runs of Pieta on television back in the day. It was made by Carlo J. Caparas, and stars Ace Vergel†, Charito Solis† and so many others. The other was for TV with Ryan Agoncillo and the iconic Ms. Cherie Gil†. I was looking forward to see this version of "PIETA" made by director Adolfo Alix Jr. which stars National Artist and Superstar Ms. Nora Aunor and former Congressman and now Councilor Alfred Vargas from Quezon City. During MMFF 2023, they didn't include this film in the lineup. It would have made history to see the legendary actresses battle it out in cinemas, but I guess fate had other plans.

Good news for those who wait as this film produced by Alternative Vision Cinema Inc. and Noble Wolf Films will be shown in January in cinemas nationwide. But before that happens, we got first dibs during the advanced screening last week at Sine Pop in Cubao, Quezon City.

First of all, the cast is a lethal combination. If you could measure acting prowess with a device, it would break if you put them together in one room. With the likes of Gina Alajar, Jaclyn Jose, Angeli Bayani, Bembol Roco, it would be a bit impossible not to see how rich their bench is. Also in the cast is Ina Raymundo, Allan Paule, Dan Alvaro, Elora Espano, and Tommy Alejandrino, who will all get themselves involved in the lives of Rebecca and Isaac (played by Nora and Alfred). 

This piece is totally different from the Caparas film, and is not in any way related to it. PIETA is written by heavily awarded Jerry Gracio known for his work in several movies, MMK on TV, screenplays and great literary work in Filipino. He's also a Palanca awardee, so you could sense there's great expectations in actually having this written for the silver screen.

 Here's some scenes before the advanced screening:

Alfred Vargas' character Isaac lives in troubled times. Having spent years in incarceration, he was given a second chance to live a good life. He was in for murder, but remained oblivious about what happened. When he arrived home, his Mom had supposed Alzheimer's disease or some form of dementia. Nora's character Rebecca used to religiously visit him in jail but suddenly stopped, and they attributed it to the condition which he found out after arriving at the ancestral home/farm. He found her there almost completely blind, unaware of who he is, with Beth (played by Gina Alajar) providing care for her.

He was set on now dividing his time in finding out the truth, and see ways on how he could at least get to be recognized by his own Mom. He also knew how his own brother stood witness against him, but he couldn't figure out why. This and all the other complications in his new life happens, right when he thought he was doing good.    

The film discusses a lot of social issues, but its main essence lies on the relationship of the Mother and Son. This is their journey to discovering how even if the mind won't recognize who he is, her heart would eventually know. Their attempts to reconnect treads cute to dark poetry, dance and even folk songs. Her singing? Can't tell if she did (as it might spoil things), but it'll fit right with Rebecca's silent moments which you'll find essential. Director Adolf Alix Jr. knows how to set up things on the plot, a lot of which you'll find flipped and reversed.     


Putting Ms. Nora Aunor in a film is like an automatic masterclass of sorts. It felt like a treat to see her in PIETA. There's a Filipino term "mata-mata acting" which connotes acting with just the eyes... and how powerful she could encompass emotions with it (let alone do it while blind). She's literally known for that in the industry; and how even without words, she could do it with ease. That's one of the reasons she's adored, and highly regarded by peers. Direk Adolf also emphasized how Ms. Nora doesn't fear CHANGE, they've absolutely done remarkable work and let the eyes talk lengthily in this film. They did the same for Alfred Vargas' scenes and close up shots. Make sure you watch it in cinemas because it'll feel a lot different. They're planning to release this also in streaming platforms so it could get to Noranians around the world. 


Here's Director Adolfo Alix Jr. talking about his experience with the cast:

PIETA will be released during the 1st Quarter of 2024. I like what I saw. This acting piece didn't go to the wrong people. It's rare to see an ensemble cast of this caliber to happen in a film. 

It needs to be seen.


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