Crying Ladies

Crying Ladies proudly proclaims that is from the makers of American Adobo. It is about the same quality, so anybody who enjoyed the latter will most likely enjoy the former. That's not saying much. Crying Ladies is getting a limited release around the country, notably where there are decent populations of Filipinos. It is too melodramatic and overwrought to appeal to the art house crowd, the only other place it may play. Writer/director Mark Meily wanted to make a comedy with some emotional moments, but, like most other comedies from Asia, the humor is highly exaggerated, taking away many of the more poignant moments.

One big problem is that the main character, Stella (Sharon Cuneta, Magkapatid, When You Left Me) is not a very sympathetic character. She is a small-time con artist, just out of a stint in jail. Because of this, she lost custody of her son Bong (Julio Pacheco) to her ex-husband Guido (Ricky Davao, American Adobo, Hibla). She also has aspirations of becoming a singer, so she does all she can by practicing karaoke. Guido is moving to a different island, and he reluctantly agrees to let Bong stay with Sharon for a while. The problem is that while Stella wants to care for Bong, she is too selfish and easily tempted by anything that may make her a quick buck. It's hard to want Stella to succeed when she so easily sets herself up for failure.

She finally finds a job as a professional mourner for a rich Chinese family. Stella's mother was a funeral crier, but the profession had fallen on hard times. However, Wilson's (Eric Quizon, Mano Po, Soft Hearts) mother wants a traditional Chinese funeral, which includes mourners, so Stella is the lucky one. As a note, white is the traditional Chinese color of mourning, which explains why nobody is wearing black. She hires her friends Doray (Hilda Koronel, Demons, Tanging Yaman), a washed-up actress, and Choleng (Angel Aquino, The Life of Rosa, Laro Sa Baga), who is guilty for cheating with her friend's husband, and the trio begin crying in earnest. The pay is good for about a week's worth of work.

Each woman has some problem to deal with, most notably Stella. Meily gives each woman her chance to loudly and fakely cry at the funeral, attracting the ire of Wilson's mother. This combination of humor and pathos just doesn't work given the material. Koronel gets the short end of the stick plot-wise, and the subplot revolving around Aquino is just lame. The few moments of real emotion come when Stella must face the fact that she may be losing her son for good. Nevertheless, one must wade through a mire of hammy overacting, especially at the funeral, to get to this. Crying Ladies is funny the way that most Asian comedies are funny, in that is not.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 50 minutes, Tagalog and English with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains some language, a PG-13 or R.

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