All elements of a good movie seem to be present in the film Barber’s Tales written and directed by Jun Lana. Everything in the movie though simple in its attack seems mesmeric. It is so good the viewers at the end of the film could not control from clapping their hands.
It is a quiet movie yet its overall effect encompasses viewers’ expectations of a well-made film: honest-to-goodness directing and storytelling; unpredictable twists and characters; so-true-to-the-character acting performances; skillful use of the Filipino language; unobtrusive and discreet use of music that mixes naturally with the sound of the environment; and, lastly the brilliant use of old and faded colors.
I know there have been heaps of positive reviews and blog posts written about Barber’s Tales highlighting on how good the story is, how cohesive the direction and cinematography was or how impressive the actors were. Thus with this post, let me honor one aspect of the film that seems to have been slightly neglected. The production design.
Being a person who grew up in the era on when the story wheeled on, this element of the film truly delighted me. Thus, for me, Chito Sumera, the production designer of the movie is one of the movie’s superstars.
The movie’s production design brought me back to my pre-school years in Pasay. I agreed with all the 70’s period props and costumes featured in the movie. From the prostitutes’ usage of pink plastic rolers (curler tubes) on their hair, the presence of old transistor radio inside the barbershop, the usage of hoary kulambo (mosquito net), the presence of time-consuming ginanchillo (crochet fabric) on top of the rickety-looking tocador (a dresser) and even the old magazine with Margie Moran on its cover were all genuinely amazing to see. These well-researched props made me further feel the critical sensory-emotional values of the film.
I actually whispered to Nengkoy while the movie was running if she noticed and still recalls those reliable tin metal batya (laundry tub) which the main character and her best friend were using in one of the beautiful scenes.
These key design elements further elevated the film to be closer to what is the truth and what has existed in the past, thus, making the story so real.
The Barber’s Tales is still showing in few selected cinemas in the metro. For its ‘true’ aesthetics, this film is definitely a must watch movie.