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Ron emailed us this review of Bona from Village Voice (New York, USA)
Ron, thanks for sharing this with us.
BONA
FILM REVIEW: BONA

Elliot Stein (Village Voice) September 25, 1984 New York --- Film Forum

Much of Bonaís strength resides in the simplicity of its narrative. Nearly all of the main action is set in Tondo, except for a brief but significant and startling opening sequence in which Bona appears in the middle of a hysterical crowd during the yearly procession of the Black Nazarene, the most violent and fanatical public Catholic ceremony in Manila. It suggests that the Church encourages her mad love of God to a mad love of Gardo.

Brockaís melodrama is firmly planted in reality. Scenes of social texture are short, but are beautifully etched --- in the space around the only water pump in the neighborhood, which serves as a sort of a village square (a village ankle-deep in sewage), the men spend their nights getting drunk and singing Beatleís songs while the women pray to the Virgin. One of the many miracles of this superbly directed movie is the way --- with rapid unsentimental strokes --- Brocka demarcates Bonaís assimilation in the slum, where her warmth and natural affability find a welcome they had been denied in the anxious middle-class background she has abandoned.

Brocka is one of the most physical of directors. His films are full of scenes of people touching --- nervously, tentatively touching one another --- and his rapport with actors is tremendous. Nora Aunor is a special case --- sheís the Filipinoís favorite movie star, and more. Herself a slum child at 14, she won a singing contest and soon became a film personality, appearing in trivial, successful hit after hit; she now has her own weekly TV show. Aunor is a sociological phenomenon: the first dark-skinned superstar, idolized by the underclasses. Her fanís devotion is unlimited. A score of them have come to live and work in her house as self-appointed servants. For many, she has the status of a saint. Her role in Bona in Brockaís movie --- which she produced out of her own pocket in order to appear in a serious film --- is not unlike that of one of her own fan-servant-slaves.

Aunorís co-star is no less than Phillip Salvadorís glistening body (who was Stanley Kowalski in Brockaís Tagalog production of Streetcar) which Brocka makes us to see with Bonaís eyes in a dozen bed and bathtub scenes. The camera observes Salvadorís body with something of the meticulous awe with which Von Sternberg and his lenses ogled La Grande Marlene.

Iíve seen Bona three times and not yet had my fill of it --- I donít think a better movie has premiered in the city so far this year. More than a movie, it is also an act of civil disobedience.

(This was culled from a book written by the late Agustin L. Sotto.)