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REVIEW: ‘Your Mother’s Son’ is an unsettling microcosm of the previous populist regime

By Jerald Uy Published Apr 14, 2024 2:28 pm

Meant to be a companion piece to Metro Manila Film Festival 2021 Best Picture Big Night!, Your Mother’s Son is a disturbing erotic chamber drama and an unsettling microcosm of the previous populist regime.

Both films start with a news report in the background, updating the people on the status of the Philippine government’s war on drugs and the enlistment of barangay officials in gathering the names of drug suspects in every neighborhood in the country on what they called the “watch list”. 

Meanwhile, in a household far from the epicenter of the drug war, something taboo has also been normalized as an abuser manipulates two young teens to live as a family. Parallel to the onset of the Duterte administration, part-time tutor Sarah (Sue Prado) and his junkie son, Emman (Kokoy de Santos), have been keeping a secret for five years. It goes downhill when Sarah takes in a battered student, Oliver (Miggy Jimenez), much to the chagrin of Emman. 

Filmmaker Jun Lana has a reputation for not telling the same story twice so it is not surprising that Your Mother’s Son is set in a rural area and has a more serious tone than in Big Night!. While “shared universes” is a narrative concept that would normally excite audiences, it does unsettle you more, knowing that these events are based on the country’s recent collective trauma. To illustrate, piecing together the puzzle pieces of the Heneral Luna-Goyo: Batang Heneral ‘s “Bayaniverse” was fun because we had a relative disconnect from that period. 

Initially rated X by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, Your Mother's Son has now been granted with an R-18 rating.

Without the context of the drug war and the elections, it would have passed as an erotic film that had better quality and substance than most that play on Vivamax. In the same vein as the Netflix film May December and the unhinged Poor Things on Disney+, Your Mother’s Son is designed not to titillate but to put viewers in disgust. Of course, this is not true for every person, especially if you think the same way as the mother, Sarah. 

Prado’s subtle acting carries the whole film. Having seen her play a lovable parent in boys’ love web series Gameboys, Prado effortlessly shows she can also transition to an inhumane being, albeit disguised as a nurturing mother. 

The rest of the cast takes care of its hostile humor, not too different from the late-night presscons we used to watch on TV. Its title is even a translation of a curse hurled among drunkards. Co-writer Elmer Gatchalian even shared that its original title was more vulgar—a curse usually pronounced by the former President on live TV, but it wouldn’t pass for theatrical release. 

Twisted and darkly funny, Your Mother’s Son is a worthy addition to the Duterte era filmography, alongside Big Night!, docus Aswang and A Thousand Cuts, and non-fiction book Some People Need Killing

Watch the trailer below.

Your Mother’s Son is running at The Idea First Company’s EnlighTen Film Festival until April 14 in Gateway Mall.