Rant and Rave: Transit

Image courtesy of Cinemalaya Ten17P

A child’s innocence is wondrous; the mere thought of it is amazing, and can inspire awe in the dreariest of places. Enter Joshua, a four – year old child whose father, Moises, is a caregiver of an Israeli man, Eliav. Joshua lives in Israel, speaks Hebrew fluently and is playful as he can be. Unfortunately, Israel ordered the deportment of foreign children under five; Joshua is a Filipino, only he was raised in Israel.

So begins the tense drama Transit which serves as the debut film of Hannah Espia. Transit aimed to craft a very heartfelt yet relevant story that deserves to be told, and Espia did not disappoint. The story weaves five narratives of people who are connected to Joshua. At first, it seems as though the film is more of an adult – oriented film, but Transit also narrates the struggles and little joys of Joshua. Janet, played by Irma Adlawan, is the doting aunt of Joshua who keeps up a happy disposition in front of Joshua, but really is distraught about the issue of deportment and her daughter’s actions doesn’t help with the complications. Mercedes Cabral, albeit given a few minutes in the film, skillfully plays Tina who is a recently hired OFW discovered to have a faulty visa; this dilemma pushes her to think about being TNT in Israel, and Janet offered to help. In her film debut, Jasmine Curtis – Smith plays Yael, the daughter of Janet who claims she is an Israeli when her mother wants her to honor the fact that she is a Filipino; Yael’s actions are misunderstood by her mother, but she redeems herself near the end. Ping Medina plays Moises who does everything he can to protect and provide for his son, Joshua. Moises is very dedicated and will do his best to ensure the wellbeing of his son.

Though “Ekstra” and some other films try to shine bright, Transit strikes a chord with its audience with its signature wit, heart and ensemble cast. Furthermore, Transit’s story was simple yet complex at the same time; it wasn’t stereotypical because it provided insight and wisdom. The moral values of the Filipinos were there, but it was trying to convey a deeper meaning which made the film more interesting. Indeed, there wasn’t just a language barrier between Israel and the OFWs, but there was a yearning for peace between the two parties, as exemplified by Yael and her boyfriend bringing Joshua to a sacred place of prayer for Israelis. The honest showcase of Jewish culture was much appreciated because it showed the audiences the side of Israel that’s overshadowed by the controversies and the violence.

In all honesty, Irma Adlawan gave a performance that was frighteningly good because she played a role of an OFW who is trying to piece the puzzle and make sense of everything around her while appearing cool and composed amidst her family members. She deserves an award for this because though there are so many OFW – based films out there, she made an impact by blending with Janet, turning in an impeccable performance. Mercedes Cabral and Jasmine Curtis – Smith also played their roles very well and made the story more diverse and honest as possible; Mercedes, no stranger to indie films, was brilliant because though the story wasn’t entirely about her, she made good with her time and gave a performance wherein she cried half the time, and it was affecting, and it tugged the heartstrings of the people. Meanwhile, in her debut performance, Jasmine was surprisingly excellent, thereby destroying any notion that she is just a pretty face; with Transit, Jasmine’s Yael was silent at times, but those silent moments paved the way for her character to grow and fully understand her culture and her roots, making her a stronger person. Ping Medina deserves citation for his well-played portrayal of Moises; no other actor could play this role perfectly because Medina gave his interpretation and it was so spot – on and it was dazzling to behold, seeing him as a devoted father to Joshua. The revelation that is Marc Justine Alvarez made Joshua the instant favorite that almost stole the show; his jovial portrayal of a kid caught in a crossfire of fear and uncertainty made Transit triumphant and utterly uplifting. Alvarez was also adorable and so carefree that he lifted the burden of the tension of the issue, making Transit the perfect family film.

If people are deciding as to which film to submit to the Academy Awards, look no further than Transit. Backed by the soulful and deeply reflective music of Mon Espia and the editing as clear as snow, Transit deserves recognition beyond the theaters of CCP. With a strong screenplay, tension reminiscent of Argo, and heart that goes deep in the roots of our culture, Transit’s quality and vibe screams out foreign quality, but ultimately, it’s Filipino and it’s a homerun for Filipino cinema.

Rating: 4.0 
Daniel Ian Comandante

By Daniel Ian Comandante

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