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Metro Manila Film Festival 2022: Keeping up with the Florencio family   

By Michelle Anne P. Soliman, Reporter

Movie ReviewFamily Matters  Directed by Nuel Crisostomo NavalMTRCB Rating: G

DEALING with old age in the middle of modern-day family life is the focus of Nuel Naval’s Family Matters.

Francisco (played by Noel Trinidad) and Eleanor (Liza Lorena) moved into their family home as newlyweds and a timelapse montage of their growing family — two sons and two daughters — sets the stage.

The story itself is set at the present day where the elderly Eleanor calls for help since Francisco suddenly has difficulty breathing, followed by a scene in the hospital where all four children arrive — unmarried daughter Ellen (Nikki Valdez), eldest daughter Fortune (Mylene Dizon), and the youngest (JC Santos). The eldest son, Kiko (Nonie Buencamino), arrives last. The family learns that Francisco had suffered an asthma attack.

When the siblings insist a caregiver or nurse be hired in case of emergencies, the old man strongly opposes the idea, and says that he is still able to take care of himself. To better watch over the wellbeing of their elderly parents, the siblings take turns welcoming them into their own homes. The only one who escapes this is Ellen, who flies to the United States to meet her boyfriend.

The elderly couple then move from one house to the next and slowly get to know each of the families’ dynamics. Situations do not always work out well since the couple worry that they might be a burden — their children have to hire additional staff, prepare the guest room, and be on the watch if they need anything.

Running at two hours and 15 minutes, the movie feels like watching a reality show in film format. Unlike the usual dramatic problems and complicated plots of a typical Filipino drama series, the film shows realistic daily lives and problems within a family. It includes sibling rivalry (the youngest feels insecure about their achievements), not getting along with in-laws and being honest about it only to their partners, a temperamental father’s misunderstanding with his teenage son, and moments when the elderly can become hard-headed.

Noel Trinidad and Liza Lorena are a very lovely onscreen couple. Their sweet chemistry is fun to watch. In most of their scenes, they are seen holding hands tightly — the viewer would wish to find a partner and grow old with them like the couple onscreen. If the festival awards had a “Best Onscreen Couple” category, I think they would win it.

Mel Mendoza del Rosario’s script is a light comedy; however, it shifts into drama during emotional or sentimental moments. The comedic lines land very well and are not cringey.

Family Matters teaches the importance of valuing your family, making time for and communicating with them, not only because one family member needs help or falls ill. The movie does this well without being preachy.   

It was pleasant as my third movie screening on Christmas Day. I left the theater with a smile.

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