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Pick of the Day: “Leonor Will Never Die”

Leonor Will Never Die – We’ve all heard the expression, “If you do what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” But how does this proverb relate to the last third of our life, when we are no longer actively engaged in the labour force? Do we readily let go of the things that we love the same way that we let go of our jobs at 5 o’clock? Is it possible for a person to retire from their work while that employment also serves as their primary source of income? In the story “Leonor Will Never Die,” written by Martika Ramirez Escobar, this is the predicament that the main heroine, Leonor, finds herself in.

Leonor Reyes (Sheila Francisco), a once-prominent figure in the Filipino action film industry who now, to her dismay, retired, is the protagonist of the surrealist and avant-garde comedy that was written and directed by Escobar. Leonor, who is now in her golden years, is not only lamenting the loss of her source of income but also the death of her son, Ronwaldo (Anthony Falcon), whose frequent visits to the mortal realm help blur the borders between truth and fiction, as well as the living and the dead, in the picture. The protagonist of “The Return of the Kwago,” an unproduced action movie written by Leonor, takes his name after Ronwaldo and draws inspiration from the character.

There is no improvement in the relationship that Leonor has with her surviving son, Rudie (Bong Cabrera). After Leonor has failed to pay the power bill for three consecutive months because she has been spending the family’s already diminishing finances on action DVDs, the two are seen arguing with one another. Rudie’s accusation against his mother is that she is attempting to recapture the golden days of her past. He confides in a friend, “Mama is just beyond my comprehension these days.” “She is up to date on every new programme, yet she always forgets to pay the energy bill.” Even though the old lady may be a spendthrift, the fact that she makes irresponsible purchases demonstrates that she is an artist who is starving to go back to her work. Leonor has a narrative to tell, and she is anxious to finish it, and the DVDs provide her with more than just mindless pleasure to enjoy.

Pick of the Day: “Leonor Will Never Die”

She resumes up with “Kwago” just where she left off, extracting the unfinished screenplay from its coffin, which is a box full of relics that have been forgotten. The productive writing session that Leonor had just finished was cut short when a TV set fell on her head and knocked her out. She never regained consciousness after that. After that, Leonor finds herself transported into the middle of her own script. Within the confines of “Kwago,” she is simultaneously a participant, a viewer, and a scribe in her very own film. Leonor lives out the ambition of every aspiring author by touching, experiencing, and being in a world that she has created all on her own.

In the world of the awakened, Rudie is informed by the doctor that Leonor is now experiencing hypnagogia. He is also given the recommendation to speak with his mother in an effort to stimulate her awakening. In the hope that Leonor may regain consciousness, he comes up with the plan to make a film based on the screenplay she wrote. However, the more he reads the screenplay, the less he knows his own mother. She’s always been a mystery to him. “Mama, where did all of this stuff come from?” Rudie asks Leonor near her bedside. “Ma, I just can’t look right through you. You’d rather chat to the characters in the screenplay, wouldn’t you?”

Indeed, each significant person in Leonor’s life has been given an avatar in “Kwago,” which serves as a therapeutic outlet for the scriptwriter as she works through the traumatic experiences that have shaped her life and forces her to face them head-on. We witness Leonor console a grieving mother, her fictitious counterpart, who has also lost a son, and she apologises to the character for creating such sorrow into the character’s narrative. This scene takes place in the story. When Leonor thinks back to how Ronwaldo passed away, she tells the other lady, “I didn’t know what to do.” “It was just like watching a movie.”

Escobar told us that the song “Leonor Will Never Die” is a literalization of the concept that “we’re all living in our own movies.” This sentiment is conveyed through the film’s experimental and self-reflexive storytelling, which frequently breaks the fourth wall: the audience is given insight into the post-production process as well as Escobar’s own creative decisions as we watch her run ideas by her colleagues. “Leonor Will Never Die” is “about how I see life as one big film that we carry on creating and modifying until it’s complete,” as the filmmaker highlighted in the introduction of the movie. The audience is left wondering which aspects of the movie are essential to the plot and which are only there for atmosphere; does it really matter whether or not these distinctions are made as long as we like the film?

Leonor can refer to a number of different people and things, including Leonor the comatose mother, Leonor the stubborn artist, and Leonor the role that Francisco plays so wonderfully. Is the Leonor that we see shown on the screen in the film “Kwago” only a product of the retiring screenwriter’s own creative process? Or is it the materialisation of her memory, which has been kept by the members of Leonor’s family who are still alive? The story “Leonor Will Never Die” brings to mind the extraordinary power that fiction possesses to circumvent the limitations imposed by the rules of reality. Leonor will never truly pass away, even if the television does end up being fatal to her. She is relieved of this responsibility so long as there is a spectator on the other side of the screen.

On November 25, “Leonor Will Never Die” will be released in cinemas. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this year, where it also took home the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Innovative Spirit.



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