Movie Review for Talamak

The Wrong Names

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The first thing you might notice about Talamak is that it misspells the names of several of its cast members in its credits. If you were to walk out at this point, you’d be completely justified. This is something that is easily checked, and if a movie can’t be bothered to get that much right, how can anything in it be good? If you somehow gave it the benefit of the doubt, all you get in return is a thoroughly terrible movie that doesn’t really seem to understand its own subject.

The movie is made up of two stories. The first story concerns Arman (Felix Roco), a young student who gets involved in drugs. In spite of the concern of his parents and his friends, he dives deeper into the lifestyle, leading to severe consequences. In the second story, Soledad (Jaclyn Jose) is a single mother struggling to keep her two children fed and clothed. In desperation, she agrees to become a middleman for the drug trade in her town.

The only point the film has to make is that drugs are bad. But it makes this fairly simple point in a really obtuse way. The film doesn’t really explore, for example, the physical and psychological effects that a drug may have on a person. And it doesn’t really get into how drugs may have far-reaching effects in a community as a whole. In the first story, the main character only learns his lesson after his anti-drug friend is killed in an encounter with drug dealers. He gets into this encounter because he repeatedly tells the dealers off, demanding that they stay away from Arman.

Sure, that friend’s death is marginally related to drugs, but it’s hardly a straight line. If anything, the lesson is that you shouldn’t taunt criminals. If the friend were a rational human being, he might have just gone to the police. The first part ends with Arman learning his lessons, telling other people to say no to drugs and yes to God. And though the sentiment is fine, it’s a strange, sudden jump that is in no way justified. The second story is just as silly, the lesson basically being “don’t get involved in the drug trade or you might get arrested.” And then some text at the end negates the lesson by telling the audience that everything turned out okay in the end.

All this nonsense is wrapped up in a production package that looks right out of 2005. The film is in SD, to start with, in a 4:3 aspect ratio that belongs nowhere near a cinema. The sound is awful and the direction is amateurish. The film assembles an impressive roster of actors, but no one comes out of it looking okay. Felix Roco, Jaclyn Jose, Lovi Poe and Roi Vinzon put up some of the worst performances of their careers. They probably didn’t have too much to work with, but it doesn’t excuse many of their choices.

Talamak is puzzling, mostly because it seems strange that anyone would ever think that the movie was good enough to be shown in a cinema. It’s the kind of terrible that’s hard to believe sometimes. To this point: the film ends with Jaclyn Jose’s face in a freeze frame. And then: prison bars are superimposed on the image. This is done completely without irony. It’s the kind of thing that might be acceptable in a joke video from 1986, but certainly not a serious movie being shown inside a cinema in 2013. Then again, it’s only par for the course for a movie that got its actors’ names wrong.

My Rating:

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