By By Pablo A. Tariman
Tale of an island according to Chito Rono
posted 21-Aug-2018  ·  
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Christian Bables as Intoy in 'Rock Signal': finally, a role of a lifetime.

Everything about Chito Rono’s “Signal Rock” is as real as everyday life in the island and in the big city.

But the bigger narrative is set in an island with a breathtaking rock formation where islanders go to find a good signal for their inexpensive cell phones.

This is the world of Intoy (Christian Bables) as good son, a concerned brother and a restless lover. He is everyman in the island but behind the character who steals the neighborhood chicken for fun, his good, old island virtues are intact. He accepts the family set up for what it is, he knows he will never be good enough in the eyes of his girlfriend’s father (Archie Adamos) who looks at him with disdain.

But he is forever the good son to his mother (Daria Ramirez) and his father (Nanding Josef).

In all these roles, Bables finds the niche in which to flex his acting muscles.

By and large, he was consistently natural and sensitive and at the end of the movie where he bemoans the attitude of his heartless sister, the actor wraps up a role of a lifetime – with aplomb!

With his fate that he accepts for what it is, his role was all of a sudden reminiscent of Julio Madiaga in Lino Brocka’s “Maynila Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag.”

If Roco shone as Julio Madiaga in Brocka’s “Maynila…” one has the feeling the Intoy of  Bables in “Signal Rock” will make similar impact in the ongoing Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino.

Because he imbued his character with such raw power and instinct limned with grace you can see the good old island virtues mirrored in his sensitive characterization.

Moreover, the film has all the elements that make for great cinema. The ensemble acting was highly inspired, the cinematography captured the breath-taking island seas, the screenplay (Rody Vera) captured island life for what it is and the direction left nothing to be desired. It is a classic case of excellence that doesn’t call attention to itself.

And yet the story is a simple as everyday life in these islands. They ride the waves, try their luck in the big city and beyond. All of a sudden, they have to turn to their family for final comfort.

Like it or not, the film is a veritable showcase of good acting. Arnold Reyes as the spoiled brother is indeed loathsome, Ces Quesada as the ‘reluctant’ politician is as polished an actor that she can be, Menggie Cobbarubias as the island mayor has a gentler character until you take hold of his personal secret and Joel Saracho as the gay island bureaucrat had the role perfected to the last dialogue that gives his character away as he casually asked Intoy, “Malaki ba yan?”

Even the less celebrated Keana Reeves as the wedding guest and the perennially silent ex-lover Jomari Angeles had their own moments to savor on the big screen. When his girlfriend (Mara Lopez) embraced him to say she had something special for him, you knew at once her marriage was her solution to her own desperate life.

Mon Confiado (the husband turned killer) and Paolo Rodriguez (the parish priest) had their special mysterious encounters and you wonder why they are often seen together in the convent dining room.

As it is, “Rock Signal” is Philippine society as seen in an island having its share of piety, family secrets, crime and corruption and a sad story of outmigration.

And Direk Chito has given it a special cinematic touch to make it unforgettable long after you have watched the movie.

“Signal Rock” opens in cinemas August 15.

Daria Ramirez and Arnold Reyes with family in 'Rock Sig-nal.' A veritable showcase of acting talents.
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