Review: Brutus (2/5)

“Brutus: Ang Paglalakbay” touches bases with our brethren in Mindoro. The focus of this Tara Illenberger-directed film are two Mangyan kids beleaguered by illegal logging and child labor activities. In order to contribute to the finances of their impoverished families, Adag and Payang are forced by circumstances to help illegal loggers transport wood from the mountains down to the capital. Since this activity is illegal, the kids need to take extra caution to avoid forest rangers who serve as vanguards against such law violators.

“Brutus: Ang Paglalakbay” utilizes what it has in its fullest extent by employing long shots of the vast forest and sprawling stream channels. The shots are not perfect but are still captivating. The execution and theme may be too ambitious for its resources, but the filmmakers succeed in getting their point across the mountains of Mindoro and show the hard knock life of the Mangyans to the general public.

Although Ronnie Lazaro and Yul Servo are in the film, it relies heavily on the ability of Adag and Payang to carry the movie all the way through. And to elicit response from the audience, the film resolves to shallow gimmickry using a puppy love angle between the two, which seems more exploitative than cute. Another fall back of “Brutus: Ang Paglalakbay” is its tone, that is as self-righteous and as preachy as the sermon of friars. The film is also guilty of lazy storytelling and abuse of flashbacks.

Moreover, the inclusion of the untouchable side-story of the NPA-military conflict to the plot seems far-fetched. The film subtly explores this without giving a firm resolution at the end. It could have been better if the focus is mainly on the two Mangyan kids and their struggles as transporters of the logs. The film ended, without earning its ending.


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