KTX review: Madcap matrons lift 'Women of Tonta Club'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Jan 15 2022 11:47 AM

A scene from 'The Women of Tonta Club'
A scene from 'The Women of Tonta Club'

Marlyn Yambao (Nova Villa) was the president of the Tonta Club, a socio-civic organization for women. Her two close friends Aida Macalipay (Tetchie Agbayani) and Lani Quintos (Tina Paner) were usually supportive of Marlyn's projects, despite her odd, eccentric ways. However, time came when Marlyn said and did mean things to both Aida and Lani that breached the trust they had as friends, which led to a major falling out among them. 

This film is the first project of the Kapitana Entertainment Media under entrepreneur, cookbook author and award-winning baker Rossana Hwang, who now adds film producer to her long list of business ventures. Hwang was totally hands-on on her first film, coming up with the story and even co-wrote the script with Norman Boquiren, who already had one screenplay under his belt before this with "Sol Searching" (Roman Perez, Jr., 2018).

Since it is a maiden venture by a neophyte independent producer, we tend to forgive the rather low production values of the final film. We will also understand the necessity for repeated in-your-face product placements (mainly by major sponsors Chooks to Go, Hotel 101 and Intellicare). A pink box of goodies from Hwang's very own bakery Pink Mixer made an appearance in one scene. These little details can actually be quite funny to spot.

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The three main actresses Villa, Agbayani and Paner had to carry the film on their shoulders as most of the other cast members were non-actors. Each one was made to do silly, immature, petty things that, while amusing, can sometimes come off as annoying. However, their chemistry as best friends was not always convincing which can be distracting. A flashback about Aida and her husband Basilio (a ponytailed Efren Reyes Jr.) was not really needed. 

Hwang probably wanted to have their own version of "The Golden Girls," tackling the friendship and misadventures of middle-aged to young-senior women friends. They did, and that wedding party scene with the rainbow-colored gowns was hilarious. However, the script made Marlyn really blurt out some pretty hurtful words against her friends. We can only rely on the goodwill of Nova Villa the actress so as not to take Marlyn's curt behavior too seriously.

Director Xion Lim had been directing films and TV series under his own production company Oxim for about 15 years now. However, he is still quite basic in his camera angles and blocking, and the storytelling can be somewhat clumsy and felt over-long. Lim even graced the screen in one scene as the mayor whom the matrons swamped with selfie requests. All this awkwardness added somehow added comical value to this quaint film. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, “Fred Said.”