Nonoy (Dindo Fernando) who is married to Lizzie (Pinky de Leon) slept with Betty (Elizabeth Oropesa) who is married to Charlie (Eddie Garcia) while Julie (Beth Bautista), a bachelor girl living with Buddy (Raul Aragon) is being pursued by her boss, Joey (Ronaldo Valdez). The plot thickens further because Lizzie is Betty's best friend and Nonoy is Charlie's. Marriage and commitment, love and sex, the quality of life and materialism. These are the questions that flicker across the screen in Danny Zialcita's Ang Kabiyak (Trigon Cinema Arts), a film floundering in the spiritual morass of Manila in the eighties. But this is not to say that the movie is depressing. When all the shimmering fragments fall into place, we discover that the sly maestro, the Philippines most witty, urbane and sophisticated filmmaker has tricked us once again by holding a mirror in our faces and making us look at ourselves. Ang Kabiyak is one of the few movies about upper middle-class denizens which reflects a wry, clever and ironically humurous sensibility while exposing the sham and dry rot of smiles, handshakes, hugs and kisses between husbands, wives, friends and lovers. Most often what we get are homosexual fantasies of upper class living wrapped in nouveau riche decor, women based on Tennessee Williams' characters and blockings meant to provide fodder for subsequent sessions of private imaginings. These cheap movies reeking excessive emotionalism simply serve as sexual narcotics for the man on the street without making him question the quality of his own life. Ang Kabiyak manages to point to the fact that a lot of our bright men and women, who are married, hold high positions, have model homes in exclusive villages, shop at Greenhills, suddenly find their lives empty and meaningless.
The dramatic confrontations between each one of the characters bring low-key-excitement, at times funny, amusing, or touching but always unsentimental. One of the movie's most heart-breaking scenes is the break-up between Nonoy and Lizzy, which begins with a violent altercation and ends on a note of understanding. For all its seeming simplicity, Ang Kabiyak is so rich with possibilities often only hinted at. Even the character's small gestures and silent glances are full of untold meaning. This is where the contribution of the cast comes in handily. Elizabeth Oropesa as a perplexed wife and Dindo Fernando as a lost soul are standouts. It is heartening to see the steady development of Beth Bautista as an actress in films like Huwag and Ikaw At Ang Gabi (1979). Her restraint and internalization without irritating mannerisms like arching eyebrows or flaring nostrils pushes her into a level way above the crop of sexy actresses who can only boast of plunging necklines and creamy thighs. Eddie Garcia would have been perfect for the undemanding role of Charlie except that he betrays some silly mannerisms uncharacteristic of the intelligent doctor's character. Ronaldo Valdez is given a role that suits his talent and personality. His good moments are many, like the scene where we can read the disappointment in his face as he vainly tries talking to Julie. Pinky de Leon as a woman with a bruised soul struggling against frustration and despair delineates the many moods and rhythms of her character with instinctive subtlety. Ang Kabiyak is remarkable in that it shows new nuances of thought and feeling which are presented without any pretensions to maturity and sophistication.
Directed By: Danny L. Zialcita
Screenplay: Baby Nebrida
Cinematography By: Felizardo Bailen
Musical Director: Idan Cortez
Film Editor: Ike Jarlego, Sr.
Art Director: Cesar Jose
Produced By: Trigon Cinema Arts
Release Date: September 11, 1980