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In his directorial return to Cinemalaya, Thop Nazareno continues to tell the story of youth thrust into the (often unfair) harshness of reality. Edward circles around the titular character who spends his days in a public hospital caring for his sick father. His daily routine and perspective in life suddenly change when he meets Agnes, a patient in the female ward.

Edward is a coming-of-age in its simplest form, ironically heightened by the production put into Edward’s surroundings. Alvin Francisco’s production design and Kara Moreno’s cinematography give a glimpse of just how cramped Edward’s world is, yet he does what he can to make the most out of his “playground.” Thop’s composer Pepe Manikan (a winner from his previous Cinemalaya film Kiko Boksingero) fills in silences with beautiful music, which helps emphasize the decisions Edward makes throughout his journey.

Thop himself takes the reins beyond the director’s chair, teaming up with John Paul Bedia for an engaging story—one that, although with a certain lack of development, leaves breadcrumbs for keen viewers—that reaches a climax brimming with the very definition of adolescence. Louise Abuel, who plays Edward, lets his youth and innocence drive his performance, admirably balanced by Dido dela Paz(even if he is barely off a bed).

Though Edward tries to escape as he “grows up,” the hospital serves as a prison, tying him to a life that is neither fair nor forgiving. Still, Thop poignantly shows us how unfair life is, and it’s worth seeing Edward grow up and learn what lies ahead in the so-called “real world.”

Catch all the films in #Cinemalaya15 from Aug. 2–13 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and select Ayala and Vistas cinemas nationwide.

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