Review: Dinig Sana Kita (4/5)

In one of my most favorite films, Danish director Lars Von Trier proved that you don’t need eyes to see in the tragically poetic “Dancer in the Dark”. An overly loving mother, who is slowly going blind, still see the world through rose-tinted glasses despite the utmost cruelty of life. In a parallel representation, director Mike Sandejas (helmer of “Tulad ng Dati”, the recipient of the Balanghai trophy during the 2006 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival) shows us that you don’t need ears to hear and that “even in silence, there is music”.

“Dinig Sana Kita” is the story of two people living in opposite worlds. The girl (Zoe Sandejas plays Niña) is a band vocalist. When she’s on the microphone, she wears her heart on her sleeves with her emotive rock ballads but outside the stage, she is impenetrable. Although she appears tough on the outside, this often-misunderstood troublemaker is fragile when it comes to family matters. So when anxiety attacks, she resorts to her own version of therapy – alcohol and ear-splitting music from her headphones.

Meanwhile, the guy (Romalito Mallari, a real-life deaf-mute, plays Kiko) is a deaf-mute dancer. His disability does not stop him from leading a normal life. He learned how to dance and appreciate music by feeling the vibrations and counting his steps. But Mr. Optimistic’s life is not without his fair share of miseries. In the deafening silence of his world, he struggles to come to terms with the fact that he was orphaned since birth. So what happens when their worlds collide? What happens when the dancer meets the singer, the calm meets the storm, the parentless meets the overprotected? You guess it right, the two make beautiful music together.

“Dinig Sana Kita” can easily turn into yet another cheesy love story. Luckily for us, this is not a mainstream film wherein the lead characters can hate each other one minute and start making love the next. The script introduces us to the characters first, takes its time to immerse us into their lives, and gradually builds the romance. But instead of philosophizing about love like a dreamy high school girl, the film focuses its attention on dealing with the characters’ personal issues – the fear that greatly consumes Niña and the void that is longing to be filled in Kiko’s world. Before you think that this is a heavy drama that will squeeze your eyes dry, I’m happy to inform you that Sandejas has a humor so be prepared to wet your hankies and giggle at the same time.

Once again, this film has disproved the notion of major film studios that big moments replete of endless tears and hysterical acting are needed to engage viewers emotionally. Sometimes, the most heart-tugging scenes are those that are delivered in silence. I was mostly affected by the confrontation between Kiko and Dr. Rafael Mendoza (Robert Seña). There were no screaming, no punches, not even a single word was said. I never thought an argument through sign language could convey so much emotion.

“Dinig Sana Kita” is a family drama, an advocacy, and an inspirational tale. It empowers the handicapped as well as normal people whose disability is the unwillingness to help themselves. It reminds us that the only thing that is impossible are those we refuse to do.

Among the 10 films in competition, this is most likely to win the Audience Choice Award. I’m sure it would make a killing both critically and commercially once it cross the mainstream. So if you can only see one film in Cinemalaya this year, let this be it and I bet you won’t regret it.

* published in PEP


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