Friday, 25 February 2011


Partly autobiographical, this peculiar independent film from the Philippines reflects on the American influence during the occupation, suggesting where it has benefited his town and where the illusion of goodness is soon to give way. Director Kidlat Tahimik plays a version of himself, a young jeepney driver obsessed with his transistor radio. An avid follower of the Voice of America broadcasting service, Kidlat is heavily seduced by this voice of an apparent higher power, and occupies himself with the dream of being part of the developed world. When he is offered the opportunity to move to Paris, he accepts almost instantly, and soon learns that the Western world operates on more than the icons he had grown up with.

Unapologetically experimental in his storytelling, Tahimik works without any strong semblance of rhythm or pace – pieces of music begin and then are abruptly stopped before the next scene. Dubbing is similarly amateurish, with Tahimik’s character providing a partly diegetic commentary which brings to mind underground filmmakers. This is not to simplify Tahimik’s intellectual goal – if anything, the uneven shooting style and use of bricolage clarify his point, implying that his cinematic voice is an imbalanced compromise as a result of colonialism. Tahimik makes frequent use of visual and verbal puns – the motif of chewing gum plays a metaphorical role, painting the American influence as a fleeting fancy. Perfumed Nightmare lacks the rigour of other post-colonial films such as Soleil Ô, but the personal angle makes this film all the more charming.

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