Jojit Lorenzo as Bok, the court stenographer and Sid Lucero as Atty. Ric.
Corruption is a term Filipinos are very much familiar with. Hailed as one of the most corrupt countries in Asia, and even the world (just look at CGMA in her neck brace and you'll get the picture) the Philippines has a very rich historical documentation of tyranny, theft and yes, red tape. So when a filmmaker like Dennis Marasigan, whoi's already proven he can make a compelling and realistic political film via VOX POPULI, decides to adapt to the screen the political play by Malou Jacob, I say he's more than welcome. It's high time we get a dose of the truth that everybody knows yet actively ignores.
ANATOMIYA NG KORUPSYON is set during the Marcos era, when corruption in the country is as its peak (or I could be mistaken or inaccurate, depending on who you ask, say Imelda Marcos); at first I didn't notice the period in which the story takes place. My friends readily saw the Marcos picture hanging by the office (the setting is in a Family Court). For me, the black vintage telephone and the trendy dresses worn by Che Ramos and Bea Garcia (who play office clerks) gave the milieu away.
At the center of the story is Cely (Maricar Reyes), an idealistic young lawyer hired to replace a previous hearing officer in an unidentified family court. Brewing with confidence, enthusiasm, and a good command of her morality, she went knee deep into a battle where she later found out to be futile, since no one is on her side.
The battle is with corruption. The enemies are her coworkers, her immediate superior Atty. Ric (Sid Lucero), and even the judge (Ricky Davao) who has not a shed of decency. The conflict arises when Cely refuses to be a team player in which case she gets trapped in the middle of a corrupt system. Of course, she has to suffer the consequences because she threatens the continuity of profiteering from the legal system by her coworkers. From the beginning, you can already tell Cely will be crushed to death (metaphorically at least). The thought alone is poignant and almost nail-bitingly heavy to anticipate.
Nevertheless Marasigan, who knows how to command a good satire presents the story in a light, sometimes humorous manner, where everyone can laugh at the characters' ordeals and misfortunes, yet never forgetting the underscored important social issues.
True to its title, ANATOMIYA NG KORUPSIYON enumerates and dissects corruption in its many forms, from what brownouts do to public service to the stenographer benefiting from red tape because she gets paid per page of what she types, up to the judge who is stated to have been receiving the highest amount of money because of the level of his needs/luxuries. In my previous line of work, I've dealt with government offices and I can relate to ANATOMIYA with much regard. The vignettes presented are authentic, and at the same time alarming.
And in its cinematic form, ANATOMIYA NG KORUPSIYON allows for a more visual and strategic interpretation; Marasigan is enabled to channel his characters' thoughts and feelings via close-ups, and that claustrophobic feeling inside the elevator where Cely was sandwiched between employees captured the main idea of the story.
Maricar Reyes is praiseworthy as Cely. Her unwavering desire to do good is almost heartbreaking; her conviction when needed is firm and compelling. When she gets blackmailed and double crossed you feel genuine empathy, because she effectively represents the common Filipino/Filipina who is bullied by those in power. I could hear gasps from the audience during scenes where she gets brutalized with words.
And in textbook cinematic fashion, as we have seen countless times in various genres, if you cannot take the hero apart on his/her own, you go after the family. This reminded me that Cely is a human being that even with her noblest of intentions, she is also capable of making the wrong choices.
A footage from the NBN-ZTE hearings where star witness Jun Lozada testifies closes the movie. For me, it wasn't really necessary (like there are other ways to convey the intended meaning) but it isn't also entirely inappropriate. I liked the film because of its honesty, and the tone of presentation where you can enjoy the film pretty much as a popcorn flick, but you are being woken up to learn an urgent truth.