Six degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay is a funny and affecting movie that reminds us the value of hard work in an industry where looks and popularity overshadows everything else.
Lilia Cuntapay (playing herself) has spent decades in obscurity as an extra in horror movies, playing ghouls or aswang and all manner of hideous creature. Now, she’s been nominated for an acting award. This faux-documentary follows her as she prepares for the ceremony. She gets herself a dress, solicits advice from the people around her, and prepares an acceptance speech that gets longer everyday. And she continues to live the life of a professional extra, existing on the fringes of celebrity, clinging to triumphs even as tragedy moves in. (Click the City)
The mockumentary effectively shows the bittersweet life of an iconic film extra. The movie is simple and straightforward, but was able to highlight the highs and lows of her career, while infusing it with humor.
Lilia Cuntapay is mostly known as the aswang or scary old lady in 90’s horror movies. Although this has garnered her a certain level of fame she suffers from being typecasted, even in real life. Hilarity ensues as the attention she receives half-mocks and half-praises her. If you are familiar with her work, it’s easy to see her as the aswang or scary old lady more than anything else.
The director was able to smartly blend in reality with fantasy. Audiences get glimpses of Cuntapay’s speech that shows what she really feels, hinting at the hardships she has to endure. It’s not just about appreciation, but also acceptance.
In the midst of all the humor, the director was able to show the sad truth about extras without turning it into a telenovela-like expose. As a result, it’s sincere and heartfelt. As a typecasted extra, Cuntapay has to settle for small roles that get smaller and fewer each day (which is always in danger of being edited out), rare praise from the industry she has dedicated her life to, and being overshadowed by more popular stars.
At the center of all this is the brilliant performance by Lilia Cuntapay. She’s good at both comedy and drama, reveling in the temporary highs of her glory days, and suffering quietly through the lows of her unappreciated 30 year career.
You already know how this mockumentary will end but you still root for her.The ending is a bit abrupt but leaves the audience with her name, the main fact that people should know and be reminded of.
As the film wraps up you don’t feel pity for Lilia Cuntapay, but appreciation. The mockumentary reminds us that while some roles are a mere blip in a movie screen, the actors who portray them still deserve praise for their hard work, as much as their more popular peers receive.
My Rating: 10/10