From The New York Asian Film Festival ’17: Our Review of ‘Town in a Lake’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, NYAFF '17 by - July 10, 2017
From The New York Asian Film Festival ’17: Our Review of ‘Town in a Lake’

One senseless crime disrupts the lives of the citizens of a small town, Matangtubig, Philippines. And in more ways than just losing two of its young women. The media gets a whiff of the mysterious, violent crime and swarms Matangtubig. They’re a presence the town would rather not have. This works as an effective satire of both the media and the police force. It’s almost cartoonish the way reporter Benny Ricarte (Lance Raymundo) gets into the faces of one of the victim’s mothers Thelma Cruz (Mailes Kanapi). But the film knows how to pull back here. Besides, the problems we see here are universal.

There’s also some magic realism in the film. The girls are Natalie Cruz (Alexx Yuaga) and Medoly Engarcial (Teri Malvar). And they made the mistake of losing their way in the forest. It seems that what happens to them disrupts more than the mortal world. It’s an mix that the film Jet Leyco’s Town in a Lake balances. The film’s fantasy elements expose the cracks within the town’s image. Occasionally the characters hear things that hint of a presence that many can’t understand. Natural phenomena occurs, as we see through weather disturbances. These effects are obvious yet forgivable CGI.

A central figure emerges despite the storm of unwelcome people. Homil Ricarte (Amante Pulido) saw the crime committed against the girls and understand what’s lurking in the forests. He’s legitimately afraid of both and doesn’t want to disclose what he knows. He also has a family that he needs to protect especially from the supernatural. Pulido’s performance stands out from the equally excellent cast. He knows when to express his emotions while reminding us the event’s complexities. And not to mention that he’s in a movie that’s stylish, its colours adding to its sense of dread.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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