I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.


Don’t be mislead by the title. This movie isn’t about caregivers, no matter what the press releases say. It’s about ONE caregiver (with all the rest being there simply to fill-out the rest of the tableux) and her journey towards emancipation.

The thematic and conceptual backdrop of the movie was so charged with the usual hot-button issues that it was fairly easy for the movie to slide into trite melodrama. But it didn’t. By not romanticizing caregiving, the movie avoided becoming a smarmy saccharine sonnet (awesome alliteration!!!) to caregivers. Which is refreshing, seeing as how we’ve already had one love-fest this year.

And by not taking itself too seriously and trying to feel like a gritty realistic docu-wannabe, the movie also avoided fist-pumping social commentary. After all, Sarah (the caregiver of the title) wasn’t forced to leave the country because of poverty or social inequity back home, but because of good ole’fashioned wifely devotion.

Instead, the movie chronicled Sarah’s awakening to the realization that, when she got married, she didn’t stop being a person. More than anything else, this re-emergence of self formed the centerpiece for the movie. And that’s why it speaks to audiences quite effectively.

Everyone, at some point, feels the pressure of having to be something to everyone. Mother, sister, lover. And sometimes, it can be tough to break out of that mold. Sarah found the courage to do it, and – in a very nice bit of symmetry – her strength came from the one thing that used to keep her in that mold.

Sharon Cuneta, I have to admit, became Sarah. In fact, nearly everyone in the movie seemed so comfortable in their characters’ skins that the story was able to flow smoothly; even the usually shallow Rica Peralejo imbued her character – a more experienced caregiver giving Sarah moral support – with respectable realism.

The movie was shot very well too, with dramatic angles and flourishes that I’ve never seen in Filipino movies. There was a minimum of speechifying-while-looking-off-into-the-distance, for instance, and a lot of competence in pulling off the close-ups that allowed the characters’ eyes to fill in the things the dialogue – superbly natural and unstilted – left unsaid.

Watch out for the scene where Sarah sweetly asks her husband for permission to spend a week in the country with her ward. You can tell that she’s afraid that he might say no, but was actually angling for him to say no as a kind of reassurance that there was still some connection between the two of them. When all he says is “you have to be paid more,” the pained and disappointed expression on Sarah’s face said more than any dialogue could.

Just a bit of a quibble, though. The movie was a little under done in its treatment of some themes and relationships. The situation between Sarah and her son was resolved far too easily, in my opinion, although that may have been due to the need to stay within the movie’s running time. The scene with Sarah getting semi-lost in the woods was also, to my mind, rife with possibility. To be fair however, it worked well enough in relation to the scene that followed. And the reference to Tess of the d’Urbervilles was, unfortunately, a throw-away.

All in all, tho’ Caregiver was a good movie – and one can hope that other Filipino movie makers take a close look at it before trying to make any more movies that ‘redefine’ *plo-cough-ning* Filipino cinema.


Filed under: movies, pop-culture, , , , ,

One Response

  1. J says:

    I agree. It was indeed a great movie.

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