Cast: Vilma Santos, Tart Carlos, Marlon Rivera, Ruby Ruiz, Vincent de Jesus
Written by: Zig Dulay, Antoinette Jadaone, Jeffrey Jeturian
Fresh from their 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival success earlier this month, it is no secret that Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra is one of the most buzzed about movies of the year. For one, it is the Star for all Seasons Vilma Santos’ first foray into indie filmmaking. Also, it gives us a glimpse on one of the most underrated people in the movie industry: the bit players. After winning five trophies last Cinemalaya awards night (for Best Actress, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress among others) and an official participant at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, there is no doubt that Ekstra is one of the main movie events of this year.
The film follows a day in the life of Loida Malabanan (Vilma Santos), a bit player, as she takes on another part in a local soap opera. We then watch how a usual shooting day happens from the main actors, production people, and bit players until it finishes the following morning.
To start things off, Ekstra is a very lively film. There are no dull moments in it with the laughs being scattered every now and then on different parts of the film. It gives us a very comprehensive look on how a production of a TV show happens, especially in the context of local production. While the main premise of the film focuses upon the bit players, perspectives of different characters were also highlighted in the film from directors to actors to make up artists and network people. This was shown to great extent in the film.
With that said, if that is not your cup of tea, then this is not the movie for you. While it is true that it shows a comprehensive take on a business that most people aspire to be a part of, the screenplay also goes overboard with its exemplification. The movie has a tendency to outdo and oversell some of its jokes to its crowd, and there were some unnecessary fillers in the story. There were also parts that just tend to go on and on which left an underwhelming impact to an otherwise great set up.
But if there’s one person who totally brought something to the table, it is definitely Vilma Santos. While her casting alone already made the film more interesting, it is the fact that she plays a bit player that gives more sass to the role. And as expected, she delivers. You can clearly see that she is having fun tackling the role, and it shows in her performance. She does a lot of physical comedy in it, and she still nails her witty quips left and right. If you’re already impressed with that, then watch out for her quiet scenes in the last two parts of the film that just sealed her trophies in the awards derby for next year.
The rest of the cast were good too. I imagined that it was a challenge for them to act alongside Vilma Santos for the most part, and they showed no signs of intimidation. From extra casting director Ruby Ruiz to Tart Carlos as Loida’s BFF bit player and director Marlon Rivera, all gave good performances and lent credible support in the film. It also doesn’t hurt that these celebrity cameos really added the glitz and glamour and everyone was clearly having fun with their roles.
In entirety, Ekstra is not a perfect film, but the good qualities outshine the weaker ones. It gives us an entertaining peek about the lives of bit players. Just for Vilma Santos alone, I recommend you to see it.
Ekstra is now showing in more than 100 cinemas nationwide.
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