What is not said in words, is felt through action. Emotionally wrought, Taklub (or ‘Trap’ in English), is an introspective film of few words, executed brilliantly by Fililipino Brillante Mendoza. The same man who slung the title of Best Director under his belt at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival for the Execution of P.
Taklub opens on a tense note. We see a group of villagers desperately putting out a massive fire, but to no avail. What is reflected, is the sheer impossibility of the human spirit pitted against elements of nature that can so viciously engulf and ravage lives in mere minutes. All this devastation was prompted, through a single spark of fire. A regret, later shared by many villagers, that this spark could have been avoided if a Coleman lamp was used, instead of kerosene.
Fixated on the raw emotions that are unearthed ensuing a disaster as devastating as Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, Mendoza keenly tracks the lives of families who have been irrevocably torn apart. Preying on our voyeuristic tendencies, the camera angle is an intrusive one, and zooms in on the facial expressions and trembling voices of the 3 A-class protagonists whose personal stories, are weaved seamlessly into the film. We see them going through the 5 stages of grief; namely, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance. Through these stages, we note the hopelessness, as they try to hold on to things or memories that have long slipped away, is something that pervades their entire psyche.
If you were expecting intense exchanges on the meaning of life after death or a climatic plot twist in the film – there is none. What we presume the director hopes to convey, is that true grief is something that gnaws deep, and the lack of words, would not be unnatural. Through the apparent dichotomy between life and death, Taklub is a film that casts meaning on the fragility of life, and how insignificant we are, in the face of calamities.
In the face of adversity, the protagonists plod on with life, and accept that life is what they make of it. Faith, in the face of disaster, is perhaps the only constant in this village, where everyone is trying to find meaning after much of their world is forcefully taken from them.
The film ends with a beautiful verse from Ecclesiastes:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Time flows on and on, not stopping for anyone. It is with time, that the villagers in Tacloban, will finally be able to grapple and be at peace with their loss.
Directed by: Brillante Mendoza
Running time: 97 minutes
Language: Tagalog (with English subtitles)
Taklub is one of the films being screened at the SGIFF, happening from 26 November to 4 December 2015. For details of other film screenings, check out their website here.