Lino Brocka’s films combine popular melodrama, political import, and intense realism with a vivid, economical style. Made on impossibly low budgets on the fringes of the Philippine film industry, his movies have an urgency and immediacy that spring both from Brocka’s burning ideological commitments (he was one of the most outspoken critics of the Marcos regime) and his resourceful, imaginative approach to the exigencies of borderline production. Set in the Manila slums, this 1976 effort is centered on a teenage girl struggling to stay afloat in the overwhelming, dehumanizing poverty that surrounds her. Her mother, who operates a tiny fish market, takes in a local hood as a lover, but the thuggish pretty-boy is clearly more interested in Insiang. After he rapes her (in a single-take sequence astonishing in its curtness and brutality), Insiang plans her revenge–a revenge that is also a revolution against the unseen government that endorses the system of exploitation. With Hilda Koronel.
Noel Vera, preeminent Filipino film critic, places the film on his 100 Greatest Filipino Films list and says of it:
“Insiang” is arguably Brocka’s masterpiece–it’s his most intense
work, the intensity sustained from beginning almost to end. It has
the best-structured screenplay of all his pictures (by Lamberto
Antonio, based on the original television script by Mario O’Hara);
it’s also one of his most atypical, and atypical of even most other