‘Edsa Woolworth’ Review: Syrupy soap

Oggs Cruz

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‘Edsa Woolworth’ Review: Syrupy soap
'The film is a web of commonplace conflicts, overstated to death to suit the silver screen,' writes Oggs Cruz
PASSED ON. Pokwang's Edsa Woolworth and her two siblings take turns taking care of their ailing stepfather. Screengrab from YouTube
MANILA, Philippines – There really isn’t anything new about John-D Lazatin’s Edsa Woolworth. The basic plot of siblings squabbling while a geriatric parent, witnessing what has become of his or her adult children, withers away in the background, has been a staple in local cinema. 
It is the backbone of Laurice Guillen’s Tanging Yaman (2000), where estranged siblings fight over their inheritance in front of their debilitated mother. Loy Arcenas’ Nino (2011) does not stray too far from the mold, but this time, siblings are struggling to hold onto dignity when most of their wealth has been squandered through the years.
Screengrab from YouTube
Edsa Woolworth situates the familiar story in the Bay Area where titular Edsa (Pokwang) and her two younger brothers, Boni (Ricci Chan) and Paco (Prince Saruhan), take turns to take care of their stepfather (Steven Spohn), riddled with Alzheimer’s disease. There is no inheritance to be fought over here, just an opportunity for true happiness, which their responsibility over an ailing old man sort of delays.
Commonplace conflicts
Edsa Woolworth basically maps the lives of the 3 siblings, and Lazatin does so in the most monotonous of ways. The film is a web of commonplace conflicts, overstated to death to suit the silver screen.
TRUE LOVE. Edsa thinks she's found the man of her dreams. Screengrab from YouTube

Edsa, the eldest in the brood who has given up on love after playing matriarch when their mother passed away, finally finds a perfect man (Lee O’Brien) to be with. Boni, who just got out of a relationship with a cheating boyfriend, cautions Edsa of falling in love too quickly, out of a mixture of envy and concern that he will be left to take care of their stepfather alone. 

Paco, who was adopted by the Woolworths when he was still a baby, spends most of his time chasing after his real father, who does not really want anything to do with him.

LOST SHEEP. 'He'll find his way back.' Screengrab from YouTube

The siblings’ conflicts open possibilities that are worth exploring, but it is predominantly a tearjerker whose methods are very predictable. There are no surprises here, and the film, in turn, is best experienced the same way one experiences a trite telenovela: with no expectations, and a heart forgiving of unabashed bathos.

A schmaltzy screenplay 

The screenplay, written by Noel Nuguit, is largely at fault for the film’s inability to make it appear that all its pronouncements about familial love come from a sincere place. Pokwang, Chan, and the rest of the cast are forced to mouth the most mawkish of lines. This makes the film, which spends most of its entire running length in seemingly endless jabber, almost intolerable.

LOVE KNOWS NO BOUNDS. Boni and his boyfriend. Screengrab from YouTube

Thankfully, Pokwang is a proficient comedienne who is capable of holding her own during the film’s more dramatic moments. She is able to throw away the attention from how abhorrent a lot of her dialogue is by simply portraying her character with very little pageantry. After all, Pokwang’s charm comes from the fact that she seems to represent the common Filipina.

Chan also gives a dignified performance. Without having to overact and overemphasize the inner turmoil of his character, he manages to fluently express the flurry of emotions that dictate his character’s decisions.  


Struggle to sit through

Nevertheless, Edsa Woolworth could not be salvaged by a couple of notable performances. The film is honestly quite a struggle to sit through, most specially if your tolerance for soap is small.  

The pleasures it offers, consisting mostly of scenes where Pokwang’s charms shine or when Lazatin attempts to go beyond calculable filmmaking, are separated by minutes of bland mundaneness, drizzled with too much syrup for taste. – Rappler.com

 Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about  cinema for  fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters  was Carlo J.  Caparas’ ‘Tirad Pass.’ Since then, he’s been on a  mission to find  better memories with Philippine cinema. Profile  photo by Fatcat  Studios

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