Taklub is an engaging, intimate, and affecting drama that reveals the haunting cost of tragedy through gritty realism.

Taklub is a loose collection of stories from three survivors of a super typhoon – Bebeth, Larry, and Erwin – all trying to rebuild what was lost while desperately clinging to whatever life is left.

Taklub depicts the aftermath of a disaster through the lives of three survivors along with their families. The movie tells the story from the inside out, providing an insightful commentary on the true cost of loss.

At first glance the story is just about their everyday lives. As the plot develops the movie uses different details to flesh out their individual narratives. A lingering shot of Bebeth’s mugs, Erwin’s trip to a government office, and Larry’s routine pedicab ride for his kids reveal their backstories. The movie paints a grim picture of the lives they have left and symbolic moments show the turning point of their stories. As a result, Taklub is an engaging and nuanced movie even though it’s about a disparate group of people with only one thing in common – tragedy.

The cast does a great job in portraying the personal anguish of their characters. The spotlight, as expected, belongs to the veterans. Nora Aunor brings in a restrained yet powerful performance who has no one else but one kid as tragedy took the rest and domestic woes leave her relationship with the father broken. While the other male actors just look stressed, Lou Veloso brings in emotional heft to his character. He carries his cross in silent suffering as a man facing a crises of faith.

The handheld documentary style fits the narrative. The straightforward cinematography did a perfect job in immersing the audience in inhumane living conditions. The camerawork – hovering around or capturing from the ground – provide a character perspective that makes their stories all the more affecting. The thrifty production value only affords a limited musical score, but that doesn’t ruin the movie.

In typical Filipino mainstream cinema, Taklub would have been overly religious with plenty of crying moments and/or 101 ways of how government screws things up with a hero at the center. Taklub does have dramatic moments, shows the tediousness of bureaucracy and inconvenience of underfunded facilities, but it has a realistic take of how people really face these adversities without devolving into poverty porn.

In true to life Filipino grit, the characters do what they can to move on. Everyone is determined to survive but the movie also shows us that not all have the noblest of intentions. Despite the survivors’ steely resolve there are limits to hard work, faith, and compassion.

Consequently all the characters are trapped in their personal anguish and the aftermath of a super typhoon. Emotional and psychological trauma are more damaging than the physical costs of a disaster.

Unfortunately, the script doesn’t offer any escape. The opening sequence symbolizes the overall theme of the movie. Taklub is a depressing rather than humbling movie experience. It provides an intimate but detached look at the lives of its subjects.

Still, Taklub is a gripping drama. As I exit the cinema, I remember the last line of Guy de Maupassant’s “La Mere Sauvage”: And I picked up a little stone, still blackened by the flames. 

Taklub teaches us that the people who suffer the most are the ones left behind as they struggle to accept and let go what was lost, rebuild what is left, and face whatever life may bring.

My rating: 8/10

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