Cinemalaya Movie Review: Tuos

Outside of the congested Manila where people navigate the dangerous urban jungle are pockets of isolated society with a world of their own.

Tuos is an effective tale about the clash between tradition and change, as well as an ode to mysticism and communal life.

Cinematography is able to imbue the story with mystery and create an atmosphere of mysticism through compositions, lighting, and contrast. At the same time, it also conveys the unspoken messages of its story.

There is a clear divide between the hesitant soon to be Binukot princess Dowokan and the current one Pina-ilog, which also establishes the theme of the movie. The side by side mirror images and silent confrontation at the dinner table shows us two clashing forces – one of subservience to tradition and the other an independent voice longing for a new way of life. Later on, drone shots help in establishing the princess’s isolated world of confinement.

Nora Aunor, as expected, is great in portraying the strained yet resilient Pina-ilog. Barbie Fortaleza, who has been a revelation in the film, can go toe to toe with the veteran. In one key scene, she shows shock, compassion, and guilt all at the same time as she cleans her grandmother’s wounds. The supporting cast also did well even though they are relegated to the background of two competing personalities.

Their story is simple but the plot has intriguing elements to keep you engaged. The movie shows details of the age-old tradition, including a beautifully shot traditional dance. While the Pina-ilog and Dowokan come to terms about the need for a new princess, an animated tale is expertly woven into the plot to tell the myth behind the tradition.

All of this makes for a captivating tale.

There isn’t much of a conflict between Dowokan and her grandmother. The young girl wasn’t able to do much as the plot takes on a supernatural direction.

The practical effects could have been better, but this is an indie film so you can’t expect much. The drone shots could have been kept to a minimum so the audience can focus on the intimate moments of Pina-ilog’s historical first journey out of the village.

Still, Tuos is able to accomplish what it set out to do. It’s a tale perfectly fit for the Cinemalaya audience – it’s a memorable story about how tradition and superstition can lead to oppressive isolation and the journey of a woman who escaped it.



Tuos is a compelling tale about the shackles of tradition thanks to a well-executed script, captivating cinematography, stellar performances, and deft direction.

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