On set in a place that thrives with religious, social, and cultural richness like Quiapo, Bendor (Tagalog word for “vendor”) focuses on an obliterate act that happens on the facade of the church, despite the Catholic church’s glaring objection about it. The trailer holds this promising plot really well, but the execution of the story speaks otherwise.
Blondie (Vivian Velez) is personified as three things: a hardworking businesswoman, a wife who’s been cheated on, and a mother of three. She is a 50-something woman with poor eyesight who works as an upfront candle vendor outside Quiapo church and sells Cytotec, an abortion pill, on the side.
The film is told in “a day in the life” manner with days spanning to almost three days. In that short period, Blondie encounters both the miserable life she’s destined to experience and the alternate reality that keeps on haunting her.
For one, she has an unfaithful husband (Apollo Abraham) whom she still need to look after, even if, and just because. Two, she stands as the breadwinner of the family, two daughters and a son (Lester Llansang) who has his own family but still needs her to feed him. And lastly despite the unfortunate circumstances that arise, she remains hopeful as evident in the scene where she picks up a yellow rose, but the closing scene somehow contradicted it as an air of sadness starts to envelope her.
Photography-wise, the treatment of the film cultures the audience to stare at a landscape shot of a building, or a still shot of a living room slash dining area, or even a mere space outside the house entrance’s doorsteps. It makes you wait for something to happen, again and again that it’s become formulaic and only after its fourth occurrence, where a girl was shown running, that it finally made an impact. It briefs you, familiarizes you, spoon feeds you on what you should expect to the point that you’ll feel afraid to find yourself staring at an ending with no impact.
However, the major takeaway of Bendor was its starrer Vivian Velez, who made a remarkable acting work here. Her facial expressions, gestures, the way she talks, dress and even to the simplest detail of how she styles her hair –she’s able to make her usual glamorous self appear unglamorous and it succeeded with flying colors.
All in all, Bendor is the kind of film that radiates simplicity and at the same time tries to impose depth. It’s like a bird wanting to fly high but the moment it flap its wings, and flap, and flap –it fails. But it tries. Fortunately and unfortunately, it tries.
Watch the trailer HERE.
Bendor is a part of the CinemaOne Originals 2013 – Currents category -which runs exclusively at Glorietta, Robinsons, and Trinoma from Nov. 11-19.