Foster Child

Foster Child

3.0 out of 53.0 out of 53.0 out of 53.0 out of 5 3.0

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Ostensibly a fiction film about a foster mother (Cherry Pie Picache) in the outskirts of Manila spending her last day with her latest foster child (Kier Segundo), Foster Child is actually a home-movie tour de force. It takes a Dziga Vertov or Hou Hsiao-hsien to make sense out of every aspect of quotidian living, and so Foster Child is merely content with a strong sense of cluttered, bustling place: children running everywhere, playing everywhere, peeing everywhere, and parents wrangling them together for dinner, dances, school, appointments, and trips around the neighborhood. Like Cristian Mungiu did in his recent 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Brillante Mendoza attempts to take the camera from the opening shot of Touch of Evil to quotidian life in the slums.

Every once in a while, the four or five Lumière-simple stories swarming around the camera will come together: a three-year-old stands naked in the street and pees, gets washed in a bucket outside, runs (still naked) to join a basketball game in the background, and eventually is retreived by his foster mother. With the open doorways and windows in the hot atmosphere, and the movie’s own real-time experimentation, places and times all seem to merge together throughout; as in Touch of Evil, Foster Child constantly seems to be crossing borders, but unlike Welles’s camera, Mendoza’s is a shambling, sloppy one, lost in the world and totally at peace going wherever, total termite artlessness, which I guess adds to the verité vibe at the expense of form.

Or for those Romantic, Foster Child, with all its kids, has something of a child’s raw perspective, moving about in worlds not quite realized or distilled; the lack of privacy so key to its all-inclusiveness, potentially Kafkaesque, is instead completely Edenic, as people piss and eat and raise children together. The ending expounds the point. After an hour-and-a-half of the camera and characters running every which way, the self-effacing foster mother (a non-character given a perfect non-performance by a cringing, Hyena-like Picache) enters a grand marble hotel to offer up her foster kid to a well-intentioned American couple who pass her money and tell her to be in touch via other people. As Picache fumbles with the shower in a failed attempt to clean the boy after he urinates over his new family, and she searches desperately in the hotel suite for a toilet, leaving the door open as she goes, the film turns out to have a message after all: about that which is organic and that which is institutionalized. All this civilization and order and sense, says Foster Child, so that men can piss in dignity.

98 min
Brillante Mendoza
Joel Jover, Ralston Jover
Cherry Pie Picache, Eugene Domingo, Jiro Manio, Kier Segundo, Dan Alvaro, Alwyn Uytingco