Kerwin Go’s Mina-anud has the most intriguing premise that is based in real-life events.
In the remote titular island off the coast of Samar, humble fishermen discover tons of high-quality cocaine washing ashore. Unaware of the value of their illicit haul, they start selling the drugs to needy surfers from a nearby resort, who proceed to sell the same drugs to their wealthy buddy in Manila.
Of course, all the sudden fortune comes with consequences.
Mina-anud is at its core a morality play, a cautionary tale that tackles the duplicitous allures of indulging in the drug trade.
It is also a black comedy set deep within the heart of the current administration’s drug war, a humorous look into the little people that become the easiest targets for the temptations of the narcotics business. It can also be seen as a scathing expose of the glaring corruption that muddles the intentions of the government in their pursuit to supposedly rid the country of drugs. Mina-anud seems to be a lot of things.
Sadly, it never really makes any serious dent despite its many lofty endeavors.
The film overindulges in its manipulative silliness, risking breadth and impact. It is removed and wishy-washy, ultimately unable to decide whether it wants to go the route of stark commentary or blatant buffoonery.
Mina-anud imagines itself to be as brazenly aloof as the gang of happy-go-lucky surfers whose zany misadventures make up most of the film’s bids at hilarity. The problem here isn’t really Go’s inability to merge his intentions for the film. It really is his inability to go the full mile, to strive for glaring absurdity, to be vicious and violent, to grant a full picture of the grating poverty that pushes its protagonists to opt for an easy way out, no matter how foolish or stupid.
The film thirsts for anger-lined sarcasm, and all it gives are chuckles and whimpers.
Going for goofs and jokes
This isn’t to say that its desire to go for jokes and goofs is a liability.
Mina-anud just feels too attached to its characters being clowns and bozos that it neglects turning them into real characters whose misfortunes are supposed to be more moving than what the film eventually presents. The film is also visually flat, with a lot of its beats and punchlines being deflated by horrid mounting and staging. The editing is confounding, leaving the film’s pacing an unfortunate mess, wherein conflicts come too late after so much idle dilly-dallying.
The performances are mostly alright.
Dennis Trillo, who plays the moving force behind the sudden drug trade in their formerly peaceful turf, is fine in the sense that he at least provides the film with a semblance of much-needed gravity. Jerald Napoles, on the other hand, overdoes his shtick, reinforcing the notion that he is indeed playing a stereotype. This is, of course, mostly the fault of a screenplay that relies heavily on the tropes of a subculture. The film drowns in lazy writing.
Mina-anud is a squandered opportunity.
Sure, it will entertain. There is absolutely no doubt fishermen and surfers having their first stab at being high and acting all dazed and confused and dancing ridiculously will result in laughs. However, there should be more to its appropriation of reality than the preponderance of fun over more compelling issues and discourse. The film just misses that mark. — 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.