Leonor Will Never Die: Review

Leonor Will Never Die: Review

Leonor Will Never Die: Review. By Joe Muldoon.

As much of a tribute to familial love as it is to 80s Filipino action flicks, Leonor Will Never Die is a deliciously meta action-comedy from the mind of writer-director Martika Ramirez Escobar. The titular lead of our tale, Leonor (Sheila Francisco), is a beloved filmmaker who spends her retirement rewatching her own filmography – much to the behest of her son Rudy (Bong Cabera), whose annoyance at his mother grows with her neglecting to pay her electric bills.

Lonely after the divorce from her ex-husband and death of her beloved son Ronwaldo (Rocky Salumbides), Leonor secretly spends her time writing a screenplay for a prospective film, ‘The Return Of The Kwago’, its lead character being a stand-in for her lost son. As some screenwriters will surely be able to relate, Leonor’s immersion into her story becomes reality-bending, the boundaries between fact and fiction blurring away. Stepping outside for a smoke break, a falling television set sends our weary writer into a coma, and waking up inside her own story, Leonor is now the unlikely hero of her unfinished screenplay.



With its fourth wall-breaking and film-within-a-film scenario, Escobar’s writing makes for a marvellously mind-bending and incredibly inventive picture. As some have already noted, the film works as a fun introduction to Filipino cinema culture for a prospective non-Filipino audience. Beautifully captured is the retro lo-fi feeling of old 80s B-movie action flicks, which were unabashedly dreadful, but secretly extremely enjoyable.

Tossing aside the screenplay rulebook, Leonor Will Never Die is a startlingly original and ambitious exercise in style, and one that is unafraid to laugh at itself. Stealing the show is Sheila Francisco, whose performance as Leonor is genuinely endearing, and builds a great case for the creation of unconventional action heroes, far from the ultra-macho figures who typically inhabit our screens. This is an excellent feature-length debut for director Escobar, who has more than proven herself to be a talent to watch.

By Joe Muldoon.


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