MAGDALENA (SANTA SANTITA) (Laurice Guillen). 113 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (March 25). For venues and times, see Movies, page 91. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
This Easter weekend, Catholics with time on their hands and guilt in their souls could do worse than check out this oddly compelling parable about faith and redemption. Slutty rebel Malen ( Angelica Panganiban ) grudgingly hawks religious paraphernalia outside a Manila church while her pious mom sells prayers to people inside.
When Malen takes up with sexy but shifty limo driver Mike ( Jericho Rosales ), her mother dies and Malen's left alone, only to discover that she herself has a mysterious connection to God. When she prays for others, their wishes miraculously come true.
The script gives us a glimpse of the range of human pain and suffering, and director Laurice Guillen wisely avoids sentimentality. She gets terrific work from the charismatic Panganiban, whose physical and emotional transformation from bosomy sinner to beatific near-saint is astonishing. A subplot about a hard-drinking priest ( Johnny Delgado ) who's losing his faith dovetails effectively with the main story.
Considering the genre, the ending's a no-brainer. But if you can tune out some of the piped-in choral music and Rosales's histrionics near the end, you'll be entertained between nibbles on those Easter eggs.