Gloria Romero led the highly successful 2000 film ‘Tanging Yaman’ that featured a powerhouse cast of caliber actors and last year, Vilma Santos topbilled a mother-and-son relationship drama via ‘Everything About Her’; but this year—‘Seven Sundays’ spotlights the veteran actor—Ronaldo Valdez as Manuel Bonifacio, a widower with four ‘distant’ (from him and toward each other) children and a retired barangay official.
Though the film has gathered four equally beautiful stars—Aga Muhlach (Allan), Dingdong Dantes (Bryan), Enrique Gil (Dexter) and Cristine Reyes (Cha) as Valdez’s grown-up children; it is still left out one character, and that is Reyes’s.
As the movie opens with photographs of the growing Bonifacio family—what was more unifying symbol was the old Rebisco canister with all the letters that the Bonifacios have written for Manuel. The film is very symbolic as it provides an ideal portrait of a happy and fulfilled family. Those letters mirror sincere, spontaneous and so good-to-be-true openness of the Bonifacios. But over the years that cookie container were just placed somewhere, under Manuel’s bed; likened to ‘buried’ happy moments of the Bonifacios.
Like any story—conflicts surfaced and all of the characters have to deal with it either by putting it out in the open or set aside their ‘differences’ toward each other. The oldest Bonifacio succeeded in reuniting his four children when his SMS message alarmed them—that he has cancer.
The four children who were separated from their father had to agree spending their last remaining Sundays with the dying Manuel and make it memorable and meaningful.
What makes this different from any other family drama films is that of having a father as the central character as opposed to the stereotype female lead[s].
In this film, all three actors—Muhlach, Dantes and Gil have alternately showed what they all have to offer—their respective unique ways of attacking a particular character, emotions and scenes. Of course, Aga never fails to give his powerful but natural acting chops (that most have admired) that have been missed by many moviegoers for years. Even if he still hasn’t shed off some weights, he is still one of the most handsome faces in Philippine cinema and remains to be a ‘standard’ in acting. His approach to his role as Allan is as natural as he did in his character as Jerry Morales in the 1995 film ‘Sana Maulit Muli’. Dingdong on the other hand was like the character of Bea Alonzo in ‘Four Sisters and a Wedding’ as Bobbie Salazar; but this could be his best performance ever as an actor. After portraying another sensitive role in a 2016 romance-drama ‘The Unmarried Wife’—he just gave one heck of a powerful scene while confronting his siblings in a confrontation scene. And Enrique played his role without much efforts; he seemed to be familiar with his role, but gave it a soul.
Among Manuel’s children, perhaps it was Cristine’s; that was a bit weak in establishing her character in the story. Yes, she maybe is someone who wished to hold her man and remain a father to their kids despite being a philandering husband. There were questions that were unanswered—why would her husband have affairs with other women? What really was the cause?
As a whole, ‘Seven Sundays’ is reflection of what would become a family forced to be separated because of one member (especially a parent) leaving his or her family behind just to seek greener pastures abroad. The film serves as a social commentary about the effects of families of OFWs and their journeys of surviving and keeping their families intact in a country where manpower is one of its ‘natural resources’.
Cathy Garcia Molina has again helmed this Star Cinema family-drama film that will surely pierce the hearts and make the moviegoers shed bucket of tears.