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By Heinrich Domingo

The cinema stands between the real and imagined. While it is a reflection of reality, its art usually requires creative alteration to appeal to the crowd. It is a challenge then for filmmakers to tell a beautiful unadulterated story. Dahling Nick embodies this critical position of cinema and proves that it can be done. Largely helped by its naturally lovable subject, it turned out to be one of the most outstanding docu-dramas that we have seen in the recent years.

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Nick Joaquin, a national artist for literature lived a life filled with poetry, journalism, and San Miguel Beer. His life is told in this film through personal accounts of his family members, friends, and colleagues and was duly supplemented by an interpretation of texts he has written. It is a story not only documenting the life of a brilliant writer but also offering a glimpse into the Philippine history.

Nick Joaquin was a prolific man. He was an artist, writer, activist, Marian devotee, ex-seminarian, and many more. The biggest challenge in creating his biography is to compress all he is in a span of two hours. Surpassing this challenge made the film beautiful. It was able to completely narrate its story without losing the interest of the crowd. One contributing element was the way the screenplay contextualize each of its narration. The audience was given a tour of history in order to fully understand Joaquin’s actions, principles, and character.

Good production design emphasized the important elements in the story. From the Spanish-looking house of the Joaquin family to Nick’s seminary life overseas, the set design was overwhelmingly nostalgic. The filmmakers were truly imaginative in bringing into life a beloved artist.

The film started building its foundation through visual interpretations of the literary works of Nick. Its initial parts painted a surreal backdrop where the narrative would freely flow. With the help of funny and honest anecdotes from prominent writers, the audience begins to create a mental of image of Nick Joaquin. And in the latter part, it completed erecting the bust of a national artist. Dahling Nick’s film treatment is one that can surely pass the test of time. It is a movie that can rightfully claim its slot in the chest of national film treasures.

Unlike its competitors from Cinema One Originals, this movie does not appeal for being a novelty. It uses techniques that can be appreciated even by generations to follow.

Director Sari Delena and her team created a piece that is difficult to recreate. Whether it is because Nick Joaquin’s personality is unique or this film was truly magnificent, I am uncertain. But, what I am sure of is there is a need to create biographies of many Philippine icons before they are again succumbed by the quicksand of Filipino forgetfulness.

4.5 stars

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