Leonor Reyes is a retired action film director who finds herself inside the dangerous world of her new screenplay.
|Director(s)||Martika Ramirez Escobar|
|Screenplay By||Martika Ramirez Escobar|
|Where To Watch||Film Festival (Sundance)|
|Content Rating||Not Rated|
|Leonor Reyes||Sheila Francisco|
|Ronwaldo (Ghost)||Anthony Falcon|
Leonor Reyes is a formerly renowned director of Filipino action flicks, currently struggling to keep the lights on. One son, Rudie, who was helping around the house, is making plans to move out but is worried about leaving his mother behind, while the ghost of her other son, Ronwaldo, is a frequent family visitor.
But when Leonor sees a newspaper competition asking for entries, she gets out of her funk and begins a new movie script to enter into the contest. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get very far before falling into a coma and into her latest screenplay. Thus her initial excitement soon fades as she struggles to survive in this blood-soaked story about love and revenge.
Meanwhile, Leonor’s family struggles to accept the possibility that she may not wake up, as the line between what is real and what is fiction becomes increasingly unclear.
Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Reason(s) for Film Rating: Gun violence, blood, brief nudity, cursing, drinking, smoking
Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs
We’ll all be leaving, one way or another.
A Surrealist Masterpiece
Leonor Will Never Die keeps you constantly on your toes as you never know what director Martika Ramirez Escobar will throw at the audience next. Rewinds and retakes are par for the course, and just when you think you’ve got the rules figured out, they change.
As the film progresses, reality becomes blurrier and blurrier, and Escobar cuts in some beautiful dreamlike imagery to sell home the surrealism. The result is a delightfully strange story that is truly unlike anything I’ve seen before.
Leonor and Rudie
The characters in Leonor’s screenplay are definitely fun, but the real heart of this film comes from the performances of Sheila Francisco as Leonor and Bong Cabrera as Rudie. Even as Rudie pleads with his mother to be more pragmatic, it’s not entirely clear who really needs whom.
Although Rudie is ready to move out at the beginning of the film, he’s not ready to let go of his mother. Leonor may be the main character, but Rudie’s journey to better understand his mother after she falls into a coma and his commitment to get through to her no matter what leads his character to evolve into the emotional center of this film.
A Love Letter to Filipino Action Flicks
The love behind this 8-year-old passion project can be felt in every frame. The film reads as a love letter to filmmaking, and most especially to the Filipino action genre. Half of Leonor Will Never Die takes place inside Leonor’s latest action movie idea, and the film painstakingly reconstructs details from the 1980s and 1990s era which saw the immense popularity of action flicks in the Philippines.
That doesn’t mean Leonor Will Never Die takes an uncritical stance towards the action genre, however. On the contrary, the film comments on the rage and excessive violence that are key components of Leonor’s newest screenplay. As Leonor is forced to live through her story ideas, she starts to realize that entertainment may not be so harmless after all.
Ultimately, Leonor Will Never Die is interested in exploring the question: why are depictions of violence and revenge so appealing and what does this type of media say about the society that avidly produces and consumes it?
On The Fence
While the movie never shies away from referencing itself, its ending reaches peak meta-levels in a way that viewers will likely either love or hate. It’s an interesting editorial choice, and one that did take me out of the rollercoaster of emotions that had been building up until that point, but I’m not sure I could imagine a more fitting ending.
Leonor Will Never Die is a must-watch film and a real cinematic experience. Director Martika Ramirez Escobar lets her passion show in her first feature, and bold choice after bold choice make for a truly wild and fun ride in this lovely weird film.
Follow, Like, and Subscribe