Cain & Abel (1982) - Lino Brocka
An enthralling familial saga, Cain & Abel's structural framework is designed around escalation that infuses a pointed critique of the masculine ego, and the confrontational mindset, with a steadfast diet of ever-increasing horror where lives are relinquished and things continuously spiral deeper into the abyss of moral degradation. Pride or righteousness supplants any desire for attaining a sense of understanding, and it's no mistake that all the women in this film, all the innocent, are the first to see their lives extinguished. There is a commentary on masculinity but arguably class or any socially constructed division that invites confrontation. The authoritative matriarch perhaps a thinly-veiled allegory for the destructive dictatorship of the state. The class division and resentment between the two brothers, sparked by an imbalance of educational opportunity and a system (family) in which choice is a near fabrication. Melodrama masterfully molded around what is ostensibly a crime film, Cain & Abel purveys the ruinous effect aggression and division can place on humanity. Death is swift and life can be a long, continuous struggle in a world in which imbalance is intrinsic. What Brocka seems to continuously do in his films is deliver rich characterizations and an assured understanding of class and gender dynamics no matter the specific genre.
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