Directed by Richard V Somes
Starring Erich Gonzales, Maria Isabel Lopez, Mark Gil, John Lapuz, Joel Torre, Alfred Vargas, Odette Khan, Dennis Padilla
Story by Richard Somes, Screenplay by Somes, Boo Dabu, and Jimmy Flores
I have never seen Erich Gonzales in an indie role before. Nor have I ever imagined her being as feisty as her role in Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi. If there ever was, you are free to remind me or let me know of it. We all remember her as that girl who won the star search, that girl from Davao who won household hearts with her roles in local telenovelas and movies with leading men and storylines that are a bit risqué but with the help of the studio she is in contract with it becomes your typical “tweetums” flick. She’s your typical image of sweetness.
But in Mariposa, we see a different side of her acting prowess as she takes the lead as Maya, a simple but feisty young woman from the slums of a province who goes to Manila in search of her older sister. She receives a telegraph from a woman whom her sister lives with, played by Maria Isabel Lopez. With a little hint from a calendar Maya looks at, the year is 1994. There is nothing much in the set design that would contradict that we are in the early nineties, her outfits are mostly boyish flannel shirts and jeans and Chuck Taylors.
As she arrives in Manila, posters of a young woman endorsing soap is everywhere. Is she her older sister? Or does she just look familiar? Maya looks at the poster but doesn’t say anything. This may or may not lead us to think of the two but that I cannot tell and I guess you’d have to see the movie yourself. At the bus station she meets the Maria Isabel Lopez character. She asks about her sister but only gets a bad feeling that something has indeed happened. She asks the irritating question of “Asan ang ate ko? Anong nangyari sa kanya?” / “Where’s my sister? What’s happened to her?” I guess more than once… but she doesn’t get a reply. We the audience are left to believe that there is something in store for this story. And we are about to get a brief answer.
Maya is brought to the morgue to see her sister’s dead body, but since she doesn’t have enough money to claim the body, she decides to avenge her sister’s death and make the people responsible pay. She starts off by looking for her sister’s ex-boyfriend played by Alfred Vargas. He accompanies her in tracking down the people who killed her sister. Turns out the bad guys work with the police so turning them in would be difficult, but that event never happens anyway. The leader of the bad guys is played by Mark Gil whose bittersweet romance with his ex-girlfriend turns into a sick business of kidnapping girls and changing their faces to match that of his idea of the “perfect girl”. He’s also into monkey business which you’d have to watch to film first to understand what it is. The addition of that into the story is something I find bewildering. The early action scenes were exciting to watch although you’d get to see a different woman’s hair being pulled instead of Erich’s (her voice gave it away, I guess. It was so funny to watch rather than exciting) but as the story continued to progress, so did the enthusiasm I had earlier to continue watching the film. Figuring out whatever symbolism or meanings there were in each scenes, I’d say it fell flat as there was that need of a back story to back up the part where they all go back to their lives like nothing happened. They just had to finish it off by finishing it off the way movies do—- killing the bad guys and walking out.
It’s still a good film you should consider watching. But proceed without any expectations of the type of action films you’re hoping to look forward to.