The Tale of Imelda’s Stolen Pair of Red Shoes

Imelda Marcos, the iconic First Lady of the martial law regime, is known for her flamboyant antics as much as her love affair with footwear. In fact, her extravagant shoe collection of 3,000 pairs landed her a spot in the Guinness Book of Records. One pair of shoes becomes the star of the first film of Unitel Productions in more than three years. This marks the film outfit's return to movie production after creating critically acclaimed films Inang Yaya, Santa Santita, and Crying Ladies.

The Red Shoes sidesteps from the Steel Butterfly’s larger-than-life persona. It refuses to sensationalize Imelda or depict her in a bad light. Instead, the film gives us a parallel story about stealing in the name of love using a pair of red shoes as a metaphor. When Malacañan was first opened to the public after the People Power Revolution, Lucas (Marvin Agustin) was one of the first to enter the President’s official residence. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the First Lady’s infamous shoe collection. He stole a pair of red shoes and gave one shoe each to the “first ladies” of his life – his sweetheart Bettina (Nikki Gil) and his mom Chat (Liza Lorena).

Aside from the story of the red shoes, the film has other shoe stories to tell. The film shows the affinity of the different characters with their favorite shoe color and how that reflects their personality and perspective in life. Lucas likes to wear white sneakers, white Chucks, white sandals, anything white. He refuses to wear any other color. He also refuses to change and get out of his comfort zone. He clings on to his past dearly with no intention of moving on.

Meanwhile, Chat owns dozens of shoes but she doesn’t have a favorite pair or a favorite color. She is still looking… in the same way that she is still looking for answers why her beloved husband Domingo (Tirso Cruz) was suddenly claimed by the afterlife. Her husband was one of the unfortunate workers who got buried in quick drying cement when the scaffolding of the Manila Film Center collapsed in 1981.Since his death, Chat has been trying to contact him through psychics and mediums. Her remaining hope is Madam Vange (Tessie Tomas), a crazed Imelda fanatic believed to be a powerful medium.

Aside from the focal stories of romance and family drama, The Red Shoes boasts of a rich back story as well. Scribe James Ladioray uses nonfiction elements from the martial law years as turning points of his story like the collapse of Manila Film Center and ousting of President Ferdinand Marcos, thus making the story more believable and relatable.

This film may seem like Pinoy’s answer to 500 Days of Summer. But comparing it to the Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt romcom means we are disregarding the film’s political connotations and merely appreciating its cutesy, quirky ways. The film poses the question: would you steal for love? Even though Lucas has the purest intentions, he still committed an unlawful act. The filmmakers may be drawing a parallelism with what Ferdinand did to please the insatiable Imelda, but don’t quote me on that. Whether or not, director Raul Jorolan and writer James Ladioray have that intention is up to the viewers to interpret. The best thing about watching movies like this is that it leaves us with something to ponder on. It’s not just escapist entertainment that gets pushed at the back of our minds after the end credits rolled.

When I first heard about The Red Shoes, I got instantly hooked by its premise. A lot of films only look good on paper, but not this one. The high-flying concept, coupled with a commendable execution, gave us the first great Pinoy movie of 2010. Its screenplay is highly original, clever, and eloquent. It isn’t just a love story. It isn’t just a shoe story. It is every Filipino’s story. There is a Ferdinand and an Imelda in all of us.

Rating: 4/5

* published in PEP


Louie said...

Totally excited for this one. Especially if it has the same feel as 500 Days of Summer, as you say. Although I take it you just mean a fresh, surprisingly truthful take on a love story. :P

Your work involves you getting to see these things earlier than us normal people, I is envy.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see it in theaters. I got curious when I saw its trailer on youtube, though I was also a bit skeptic at the same time 'cause I thought it would just be like another "trying hard" indie film. I mean those which only try to make their stories "deep" by connecting them to history. Well I guess it's not. I trust your reviews and I salute your choice of movies. Been checking on this blogsite for quite a while. Haha! It's fun reading your reviews. Thanks!

Fidel Antonio Medel said...


It's 500 Days of Summer with a historical flair. It's light, funny, and quirky. Really great script, by the way.

I write part-time for Philippine Entertainment Portal ( to review films. The best part of the job is that I get to premieres and advance screenings for free. I don't care if I get paid or not. Watching films as good as this one makes all my bouts with writer's block worth it. The downside? I am forced to sit through hideous films like Marino. Haha.

Fidel Antonio Medel said...


I think Unitel can be considered as a major studio, which means we finally have a decent mainstream movie. Hurrah! In My Life was the closest the mainstream got from decent filmmaking so to speak.

Thanks for dropping by this blog. I really appreciate the comment. It makes me want to write some more. =D

Anonymous said...

Oops sorry! I must have overlooked that it's from Unitel. Given that, I think it set the bar high again for the future local mainstream films. Great to know that the mainstream industry is still capable of producing this kind, though, for me, they're only a handful of good movies compared to hundreds of films released by the industry every year. Sad.

Fidel Antonio Medel said...

I agree. The mainstream is left behind by the independent circuit as to quality. In fact, in the most recent Gawad Urian nominations, the only mainstream film that received a nod was In My Life.

Louie said...

Hit and miss, right? Awesome that you still get to do it though, and call yourself a professional while doing it.

I'd like to hear your take on some backyard foreign indies though, they seem right up your alley but you seldom write about those and I need someone to tell me what's good to download. :) You provide a service now, sorry haha.

Fidel Antonio Medel said...

By backyard foreign indies, you mean? Examples, please. ; )

I also watch foreign films. I just don't write about them that much since nobody pays me to do it. Haha.

I'm still finalizing my list of Best Foreign Films of 2009. I know I'm two months late. You may find some interesting foreign films that are download-worthy in that list. I'm posting it within the week.

Louie said...

So backyard foreign indies might be a stretch of a term since I never really know which foreign films are the big-budget-studio types anyway. A friend gave me copies of Mother and The Prophet and I really liked it, stuff like that.

Awesome, can't wait for the list.

Fidel Antonio Medel said...

You have a point. I’ve seen both of the films you mentioned. I particularly like Mother. You can check other Korean suspense/thrillers. Try to download Park Chan-Wook’s Thirst. If you are open to older foreign films (i.e. 2007 or 2008 release), you can try Persepolis (French animated film), I’m a Cyborg But That’s OK (Korean love story set inside a mental asylum), Let the Right One In (Swedish vampire movie), The Orhanage (Spanish horror film), The Band’s Visit (Israeli dark comedy about the racial divide), and Love Songs (risqué Parisian musical). To read more about these films, go here.


Related Posts with Thumbnails