Leonor Will Never Die
Bursting with a level of playful creativity that hasn’t been seen since oddball gem One Cut of the Dead, writer-director Martika Ramirez Escobar blends fiction and reality together into a joyous concussion of madcap cinema in Leonor Will Never Die, the filmmaker’s feature debut.
Leonor (Sheila Fransisco) is a former screenwriter who specialised in pulpy action films in the 80s. Once successful and revered, she now lives with her adult son Rudy (Bong Cabrera) and struggles to keep the lights on. When she spots a screenwriting competition in the newspaper offering a large cash prize, she decides to revisit an old unfinished script and start writing again. But when she’s struck on the head by a falling television, she finds herself waking up in the B-Movie she’s written. Here, she helps macho action star Ronwaldo (Rocky Salumbides) avenge the death of his brother by killing the villains responsible, all whilst he saves the girl (Rea Molin) in the process.
Complete with grainy video, muddy sound and fantastically corny one-liners, Escobar demonstrates a loving understanding of the genre that’s being paid homage to. These sequences are unapologetically campy and over-the-top in the way only no-budget films can be. They’re a blast to watch, but somehow events in the real world prove to be even more peculiar. Leonor’s family is literally haunted by the ghost of her son (Anthony Falcon), who died in a tragic accident years ago, and now appears as a translucent figure who his family are able to see and interact with. And Rudy is told by doctors that he must continue to speak to his mother so that she might find a way to wake herself from her coma.
As brilliantly bizarre as Escobar’s film is on the surface, Leonor is likewise filled with a tender sentimentality. At its core, underneath the clumsy fight scenes and spontaneous dance numbers, this film is about how cinema can help us process our emotions and understand ourselves. The action story the protagonist finds themselves in may be cheesy popcorn fun, but her journey to come to terms with the loss and sacrifice in her life is a deeply cathartic one.
When the time comes for the credits to roll, following an unexpectedly meta conclusion, viewers will find it difficult to stop themselves from grinning ear-to-ear.
Leonor Will Never Die is released in select cinemas on 7th April 2023.
Watch the trailer for Leonor Will Never Die here: