Synopsis: After ending her toxic relationship with her boyfriend Ben, 40-year-old Alice discovers she is pregnant. With her age and current relationship status, her first instinct is to have the pregnancy terminated.
Director: Anna Isabelle Matutina
Writer: Anna Isabelle Matutina
Starring: Max Eigenmann, Bing Pimentel, Vance Larena, Claudia Enriquez
I have not seen a perfectly performed film this year as the excellent performances of the lead cast of “12 Weeks.” Kudos of course to the direction and writing of Anna Isabelle Matutina. Be sure you watch this film and you will find out why?
We start with Vance Larena who plays the lover Ben. A young guy who is not sure of himself yet. Always childishly poking into Alice’s (Max Eigenmann) life. They are an on and off again lover who obviously because of their age gap do not agree with a lot of life’s choices. In contrast to Alice’s profession, Ben is musician who does not have a regular gig.
Low and behold Alice becomes pregnant with Ben’s child. Alice does not like to keep the baby. Ben disagrees. Thus the rollercoaster of the performances ensues. Ordinarily, a Filipino film would start with its melodrama, screaming and breaking things. But in this film we see the inner turmoil of Alice affecting her relationship with Ben, with her job responsibilities, even with decision making. Max Eigenmann kept it all in, showing anger through her eyes. I enjoyed her performance in the first 5 minutes of the film as she was in a Medium shot, all we see was her face as she was being interviewed. You would think it was about a job interview, then eventually we find out that she has decide on something more important. A life and death decision. To keep or not to keep her baby. We saw the inner turmoil all in her eyes. She gave a brilliant beginning performance.
Max’s performance also elevated as she performs with her mother character Grace (Bing Pimentel).They obviously have a rift which was unravelled because her mother was an overseas worker in Hong Kong for years. They are still beginning to know each other… I loved how they tried their best to understand each other mostly shown several times as they were preparing dinner. Mother would ask Alice to prepare food and Mother would bad mouth what she prepared.
Alice would give her silent treatment as we see Alice boiling deep inside. Mother would still talk until Alice could not take it any longer. I have seen Mothers and Daughters fight like this in person. The Mother wanted to keep the baby. The nuanced performances of their scenes added to the dilemma of Alice’s difficulty to decide on Motherhood. Grace’s natural maternal instincts you could see in their conversations in their scenes even the pregnant pauses were meaningful. Could it be because they are real Mother and Daughter in real life.
Max’s character development also heightened due to the influence of her opinionated friend Lorna (Claudia Enriquez). She from the beginning is her source of information about possible abortion. Lorna knew about this topic because she underwent it herself in the past. Max and Lorna are close to each other – ncluding being co workers, best friends and also advisers of each other. Because of hormonal changes of Alice as she is pregnant her conversations with Lorna would be filled with confusion, debate and disagreement. Alice obviously gets more confused more angered by all of this.
It is refreshing to see in their dialogue and their personalities what a modern Filipina goes through nowadays. What they are deciding on, their choice of career moves, their health problems including this controversial topic of Abortion. Alice after all is a career woman in her 40’s, even though in a relationship, she is single. All of this was apparently difficult for Alice. She has to decide on a lot of things as her pregnancy is on it’s 12th week already.
Some famous films from the Philippines that does well in the International Film Festival Circuit shows poverty porn. This film I commend because it shows the side of a modern Filipina Woman that is empowered even though problematic is opinionated – is in control and has a mind of her own. Alice’s character inspite of her indecisiveness listens to opinions. She knows how to argue, even though she uses silence sometimes as a weapon. She does make her opinion heard.
The rollercoaster ride that Max Eigenmann brings us into her reluctance into Motherhood shows us all the different sides of the argument. If you were for or against her decision at a certain point her actions made you empathize with her. At a young age or 34, Max Eigenmans showed that she could pull off a performance like this playing a 40 something year old professional single woman who is about to decide on her pregnancy. She believes that inspite of the opinion of others. It is still herself, it’s her body, it’s her decision.
Kudos to the director, writer and all the performers of this film “12 Weeks.” Filipino Film has come a long way in story telling and in meaningful entertainment.
“12 Weeks is a must watch film because of the impeccable performances! Truly Award worthy performances ! Congratulations !