YOU ARE WEIGHED IN THE BALANCE AND FOUND WANTING (Lino Brocka, 1974)

Conjoining a coming-of-age tale with a social melodrama, Tinimbang ka ngunit kulang is likely to remind some of Carson McCullers, although the adolescent protagonist here is a boy and the self-righteous resolution of the plot is far afield of McCullers’ humanity and sensitivity. Be forewarned: the biblical title, from the Book of Daniel, refers to “Junior,” a teenaged schoolboy, not to God, but we are creepily led to believe that this boy’s at least tentative judgments against the inhabitants of his Filipino village coincide with God’s. Until this resolution the film, written by Mario O’Hara from his novel and directed by Lino Brocka, is intermittently affecting (and as often irritating), but the finish kills everything. With vivid use of subjective camera as Junior makes his way through a crowd and judges every person in sight, the film ends in a dirty wash of moralism. Writer and director apparently share Junior’s and the camera’s point of view.
     In the course of this long film, Junior learns that his father, Cesar (Eddie Garcia, giving the one good, restrained performance), is an adulterous lecher; similar revelations pertaining to what goes on behind closed doors (such as wife-beating) in this Roman Catholic village complete Cesar Jr.’s moral education. Because of his sanctified perception of reality, we are to assume, the boy, becoming more and more of an outsider himself, is drawn to the village’s two outcasts, the leper Berto (played pitifully by O’Hara) and the homeless, mentally ill Kuala, whom he closely befriends. When Kuala becomes pregnant with Berto’s child, the village kills Berto’s dog and, eventually, Berto. The film ends with Kuala dead as well and the baby in Junior’s arms—although where he is taking the newborn is anyone’s guess.

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