An overcrowded, hot and stifling hospital is no place for a teenage boy, but Edward has long been stuck in this miserable setting as he is the designated companion of his ailing father. What transpires in this boy’s daily life in the public hospital is a story that captured Cinemalaya Film Festival aficionados last August. This October, Viva Films gives all moviegoers the chance to get to know Edward as well.
Directed and co-written by Young Critics Circle awardee Thop Nazareno (for 2016 Best Feature Film Kiko Boksingero), Edward stars Louise Abuel in the title role and Ella Cruz as Agnes, also a hospital patient. Cruz showcased a powerful performance, thus earning her this year’s Cinemalaya Best Supporting Actress Award.
Edward treats the hospital premises as his playground. While gallivanting with his friend Renz (played by Elijah Canlas), he sees Agnes in the Emergency Room. In her terrible state, she becomes part of the harmless but naughty game Edward and Renz play—betting on whether a patient will live or die.
When Agnes moves to the female ward, Edward is drawn to this mysterious beauty who is a bit older than him, so he starts hanging out with her. Unlike Renz who exposed him to random vices, such as drinking and smoking, Agnes opens his mind to her interesting views in life. Because of her, Edward’s days brighten up. But at night there’s nothing cheerful about sleeping under his father’s hospital bed. And it doesn’t seem like his father is being nursed back to health.
Edward is a coming-of-age movie which serves as a mirror image of the healthcare system and the government-funded hospitals in the Philippines. Instead of a place where the sick are supposed to feel comfortable, the movie shows how the lack of both medical staff and effective equipment actually adds burden to them and the individuals who watch over them.
The director says in an interview that he “makes films that (he himself) would like to watch.” He injects humor in his storytelling because he “doesn’t like melodramatic films that much” and that he “(aims) for realism, the truth”. According to him, “In reality, even when you’re sad, you don’t spend every minute sulking. Here, I try to see the humor in the character of a teenager—how does a child see the world as a playground?”
When Louise Abuel came to audition, Direk Thop saw him in the waiting area and knew instantly that he looked perfect for the role. “I was praying during his entire audition that he’d deliver what we were looking for”, he said. True enough, the 15-year-old boy proved that he is meant to play Edward. Louise was part of the 2011 ABS-CBN TV series 100 Days to Heaven.
Viva artist Ella Cruz admits that she was hesitant to accept the role of Agnes because the character is feisty, blunt, and uses cuss words, which is so different from her usual sweet roles. She expressed her gratitude to Vic and Vincent del Rosario for their encouragement, and to Direk Thop and Joyce Bernal for their trust in her ability to play Agnes.
With its meaningful narrative and wonderful actors, Edward deserves to be seen in the cinemas. The award-winning film unspools in cinemas on Oct. 2.