Foster Child Reviews

  • Aug 17, 2013

    Cherry Pie Picache is gonna depress me for days.

    Cherry Pie Picache is gonna depress me for days.

  • Ivan D Super Reviewer
    May 13, 2013

    By mastering a certain visual style that seems to have little to no regard on proper framing and composition and also distilling his films through perennially impoverished eyes, Brillante Mendoza has navigated through the local and international film scene alike (while nabbing some prestigious awards in the process) as some kind of master of derelict cinema. From the sex and filth of modern Filipino urbanites to the incidental violence that occurs in the far south, he has debunked the so-called mystique of social change by presenting unto us films that deal with seemingly insoluble societal problems. And by depriving his films of any melodramatic garbs (except maybe "Kaleldo"), he gives us new albeit pungent insights into the strains of modern Filipino existence. But here in "Foster Child", penned by regular collaborator Armando Lao, his concern is not much geared towards something broad and socially pervasive as in his later films but specifically on the beauty of 'foster care' and how it functions as a seemingly odd vocation. Its story, quite simple enough, is about a mother of two named Thelma (the underrated Cherry Pie Picache in a most emotionally involving performance) and her government-sanctioned job as a foster parent. Taking care of a supposed Filipino-American kid named 'John-John', the film explores her everyday life as a surrogate mother to this poor, parentless little sap. Even her close acquaintances, namely a gay man and her very own employer (Eugene Domingo) are, in a way, parents in the most unnatural of circumstances. The first, being a homosexual, takes care of his lover's daughter from a previous marriage, while Thelma's employer, presumably a 24/7 kind of worker, is determined to be the best mother and wife that she can be despite a most passive husband. Although it's not overtly suggested, "Foster Child", a most emotionally sound film, hints at the fact that the lives of foster parents are, in many ways, enclosed in a painful cycle of loving and letting go. I know it by fact because our family has once taken care of a parentless baby for about 2 months, and the pain of finally giving the baby to its legal adopters is just quite hard to bear. Now, think of repeating this emotional rollercoaster again and again. This, for me, is at the heart of what "Foster Child" is trying to empathize with, and Brillante Mendoza succeeds in immersing us into this bittersweet world with little to no emotional artificialities. Best scene? The part where the camera lingers on a premature baby inside an incubator, and how it slowly tilts up to reveal Thelma's priceless body language and facial expression; she knows that only the likes of her can give meaning to this little boy's life, and as hard as it is to bear, hers is a motherly love that's on retail. The film, typical of Mendoza, has no concrete script. Instead, the film is comprised of scenes that are merely brought to life by clever improvisations and reactionary acting. Even the plot, as free-flowing as it is, seems to work purely by intuition. The cinematography, as shaky and as non-intrusively observant as it is, just goes to show how Brillante Mendoza has mastered the art of cul-de-sac filmmaking: that is, the style of shakily shooting films through narrow passes, concrete dead ends and shanty-jammed mazes. And by combining it with improvisational acting, "Foster Child" was able to achieve a purer and infinitely more spontaneous form of filmmaking not seen since the heydays of Brocka and Bernal. "Foster Child", aside from its individual merits as a film, is also a sign of things to come for Brillante the auteur. It's a film that's so painfully unseen by most people that many quickly dismiss Mendoza's body of work, often immediately after seeing his darker films like "Serbis" and "Kinatay" and nothing else, as socially exploitative hogwash. On the contrary, I think Brillante Mendoza may perhaps even be the most emotionally articulate director working today without even trying hard to do so, and it is in his more tender films like "Foster Child" where it truly and glowingly shows.

    By mastering a certain visual style that seems to have little to no regard on proper framing and composition and also distilling his films through perennially impoverished eyes, Brillante Mendoza has navigated through the local and international film scene alike (while nabbing some prestigious awards in the process) as some kind of master of derelict cinema. From the sex and filth of modern Filipino urbanites to the incidental violence that occurs in the far south, he has debunked the so-called mystique of social change by presenting unto us films that deal with seemingly insoluble societal problems. And by depriving his films of any melodramatic garbs (except maybe "Kaleldo"), he gives us new albeit pungent insights into the strains of modern Filipino existence. But here in "Foster Child", penned by regular collaborator Armando Lao, his concern is not much geared towards something broad and socially pervasive as in his later films but specifically on the beauty of 'foster care' and how it functions as a seemingly odd vocation. Its story, quite simple enough, is about a mother of two named Thelma (the underrated Cherry Pie Picache in a most emotionally involving performance) and her government-sanctioned job as a foster parent. Taking care of a supposed Filipino-American kid named 'John-John', the film explores her everyday life as a surrogate mother to this poor, parentless little sap. Even her close acquaintances, namely a gay man and her very own employer (Eugene Domingo) are, in a way, parents in the most unnatural of circumstances. The first, being a homosexual, takes care of his lover's daughter from a previous marriage, while Thelma's employer, presumably a 24/7 kind of worker, is determined to be the best mother and wife that she can be despite a most passive husband. Although it's not overtly suggested, "Foster Child", a most emotionally sound film, hints at the fact that the lives of foster parents are, in many ways, enclosed in a painful cycle of loving and letting go. I know it by fact because our family has once taken care of a parentless baby for about 2 months, and the pain of finally giving the baby to its legal adopters is just quite hard to bear. Now, think of repeating this emotional rollercoaster again and again. This, for me, is at the heart of what "Foster Child" is trying to empathize with, and Brillante Mendoza succeeds in immersing us into this bittersweet world with little to no emotional artificialities. Best scene? The part where the camera lingers on a premature baby inside an incubator, and how it slowly tilts up to reveal Thelma's priceless body language and facial expression; she knows that only the likes of her can give meaning to this little boy's life, and as hard as it is to bear, hers is a motherly love that's on retail. The film, typical of Mendoza, has no concrete script. Instead, the film is comprised of scenes that are merely brought to life by clever improvisations and reactionary acting. Even the plot, as free-flowing as it is, seems to work purely by intuition. The cinematography, as shaky and as non-intrusively observant as it is, just goes to show how Brillante Mendoza has mastered the art of cul-de-sac filmmaking: that is, the style of shakily shooting films through narrow passes, concrete dead ends and shanty-jammed mazes. And by combining it with improvisational acting, "Foster Child" was able to achieve a purer and infinitely more spontaneous form of filmmaking not seen since the heydays of Brocka and Bernal. "Foster Child", aside from its individual merits as a film, is also a sign of things to come for Brillante the auteur. It's a film that's so painfully unseen by most people that many quickly dismiss Mendoza's body of work, often immediately after seeing his darker films like "Serbis" and "Kinatay" and nothing else, as socially exploitative hogwash. On the contrary, I think Brillante Mendoza may perhaps even be the most emotionally articulate director working today without even trying hard to do so, and it is in his more tender films like "Foster Child" where it truly and glowingly shows.

  • Jan 10, 2011

    Beautiful white lilies floating at the dirty river could be the look of the film. Foster Child let me enter the world of unknown tenderness in the middle of rough poverty. Blessed by unique filming, you are convinced to its reality & affirmation. The brilliancy of its actors gives Brilliante Mendoza a bunch of treasured nutrients on his film. - J.E

    Beautiful white lilies floating at the dirty river could be the look of the film. Foster Child let me enter the world of unknown tenderness in the middle of rough poverty. Blessed by unique filming, you are convinced to its reality & affirmation. The brilliancy of its actors gives Brilliante Mendoza a bunch of treasured nutrients on his film. - J.E

  • Apr 04, 2010

    Rough, handheld, almost documentary style film. Very powerfull but still not for everybody.

    Rough, handheld, almost documentary style film. Very powerfull but still not for everybody.

  • Jul 08, 2008

    John John, film philippin ayant revele Brillante Mendoza, actuellement a l'honneur du festival Paris Cinema. Un film neorealiste sur le business des orphelins eduques dans les bidonvilles de Manille par des Philippines salariees pour cela, avant d'etre revendus a des couples etrangers. Ce film neorealiste assez etouffant prend un tour assez etonnant, et meme bouleversant, dans sa derniere demi-heure, avec la remise de John John a ses "ultimes" parents americains.

    John John, film philippin ayant revele Brillante Mendoza, actuellement a l'honneur du festival Paris Cinema. Un film neorealiste sur le business des orphelins eduques dans les bidonvilles de Manille par des Philippines salariees pour cela, avant d'etre revendus a des couples etrangers. Ce film neorealiste assez etouffant prend un tour assez etonnant, et meme bouleversant, dans sa derniere demi-heure, avec la remise de John John a ses "ultimes" parents americains.

  • Jun 23, 2008

    What was true for a Berlin devastated by war in Roberto Rossellini's GERMANY YEAR ZERO is true for the precariously laid-out squalor of a village in Manila. Brillante Mendoza obviously has a knack for knowing what his audience knows and can gather from a scene. As the camera is confidently trained on what appear to be, on their own, mundane situations, the implications gradually build to an overwhelming sense of immediacy. All of it is presented in a way that feels natural, with an emotional tempo closer to real life than to the abbreviated melodrama most films on this subject would tend toward. Rather, we have a staccato beat punctuated with cab rides and corny ring tones. It assumes that you're smart enough to get it, rather than beating you over the head with orchestral swells and sweeping panoramas. My first instinct is to say I wish there were more films like this in the mainstream; studios not afraid of genres like neo-realism. But this style has to keep its integrity and subtlety to retain its value. So, instead I ask you, dear reader, check this film out, and think about it for a bit. Think about what film can be.

    What was true for a Berlin devastated by war in Roberto Rossellini's GERMANY YEAR ZERO is true for the precariously laid-out squalor of a village in Manila. Brillante Mendoza obviously has a knack for knowing what his audience knows and can gather from a scene. As the camera is confidently trained on what appear to be, on their own, mundane situations, the implications gradually build to an overwhelming sense of immediacy. All of it is presented in a way that feels natural, with an emotional tempo closer to real life than to the abbreviated melodrama most films on this subject would tend toward. Rather, we have a staccato beat punctuated with cab rides and corny ring tones. It assumes that you're smart enough to get it, rather than beating you over the head with orchestral swells and sweeping panoramas. My first instinct is to say I wish there were more films like this in the mainstream; studios not afraid of genres like neo-realism. But this style has to keep its integrity and subtlety to retain its value. So, instead I ask you, dear reader, check this film out, and think about it for a bit. Think about what film can be.

  • May 23, 2008

    It'll tear your heart out.

    It'll tear your heart out.

  • May 15, 2008

    visual tropes & bad acting

    visual tropes & bad acting

  • May 05, 2008

    long shots & cinema verite -- two things i like. there is a reason for both of those to make this one good. It's about how foster care works in the philippines. and i wasn't even so sure myself of how truthful it is.. but i called my mom to ask and verified. i don't see too many Philippine films that i like... but this one has definitely caught my eye.

    long shots & cinema verite -- two things i like. there is a reason for both of those to make this one good. It's about how foster care works in the philippines. and i wasn't even so sure myself of how truthful it is.. but i called my mom to ask and verified. i don't see too many Philippine films that i like... but this one has definitely caught my eye.