Running parallel to the main narrative of Erik Matti’s religious thesis “Seklusyon,” for me, are two propositions about faith that I always find exhilarating:
One, the closer one gets to achieving spiritual surrender, the stronger the temptation (as though feeding on the aspirant’s piety) to dart in the opposite direction. This tendency is attributed to the devil himself, or sometimes, more mercifully in other disciplines, to “illusion.”
Two, and this is where “Seklusyon” succeeds in freezing my blood—more than the deftly executed elementals and menacing santos—there are times when good does not triumph over evil, at least not in a way that leaves absolutely no doubt and therefore a way that is acceptable to even closet doubters. “Seklusyon” does not stand apart in this; Hollywood has tested the waters many times.
The faith I was raised in was pretty much black-and-white; in this end-part of a philosophical Iron Age, I have come to accept that there are more shades of grey, and that constant discernment is the only guarantee for salvation. I totally blame Philippine current events.
But I am careful to make it clear that these are personal insights because faith has as many expressions as there are faithful. To appreciate “Seklusyon” as a work of cinema art, a healthy respect for equivalent beliefs or non-beliefs is therefore requisite.
That said, and also given that any argument about forceful theological aspects presented here are not likely to be resolved casually, I choose to tackle only the more easily relatable parts.
“Seklusyon’s” Best Production Design and Best Cinematography wins are unassailable, but I’d have given Best Screenplay to “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” for its tightness and clarity. I do not trust myself to pick a Best Sound Design and/or Best Theme Song winner because, to the disadvantage of both viewers and free-lance reviewers, metro cinemas differ vastly in sound equipment grade, making it difficult to make those choices, specifically.
Lastly, call me old-fashioned, but I insist that Best Direction should cover all the actors’ individual performances, too. As an ordinary moviegoer, I saw better—at least two other stronger contenders.
Just the same, a close friend declared (only to me) “Seklusyon” a better piece than Best Picture winner ”Sunday Beauty Queen” because, he said, it (the former) made him think. Which goes to show, happily and in the final analysis, that it all boils down to why, at what point in his life and in what frame of mind anyone goes to the movies.