Donor has some of the most incredible visuals ever exhibited at Cinemalaya, if not the very best. Stunning natural vistas as the usual source for a cinematographer to display his skills, but Cinematographer Jay Abello uses the urban sprawl to show off and show off he does. All of Cinemalaya this year is in HD but this is the first entry that looked like it.
The wide shots are especially beautiful to look at in Donor and it must've been tempting to overuse this and they gladly didn't because abuse might give the film's population the appearance of toys. They also made the right decision to retain the coldness that's usually seen as a drawback of the medium. The feeling of loneliness in a crowd was served very well by the arctic footage. Donor is a technical dream where you will hear discussions of shallow depth of field and colspace and progressive scan.
Storywise, Donor falls a bit short of it's visuals as it seems to explore parts of the story that don't really need to be explored. It's main story could be summed up in a sentence or two but merely establishing the relationship between the husband and wife played by Baron Geisler and Meryll Soriano takes up a great deal of time. The same is true for every aspect of the film's story. It does take time however to remove any ill associations with the Arab man who is a character we meet later on. He is painted as just a man who wants to go on living and not some monster. He was even sweet to the people he met. It was a nice gesture on the part of the filmmakers.
Director Mark Meily illustrates every single aspect in painstaking detail and to his credit, the film never feels pedantic or bogged down. It moves ever forward, but never faster than it needs to be. The lack of any real necessity to it's core tale for much of the film however makes it feel that they could've been cut out and the film made more compact and tidy and much much shorter. As a bit of trivia, if you would like to duplicate the closing credits, pay a visit to the Video Copilot website.
Donor has a big finish and the parallel drawn at the end is subtle enough to not be offensive to those who don't share the stand but the visuals stay true to form and scream louder than any message it may try to convey. Those visuals are the real star of the show as without them, this film's shortcomings would far more magnified and less tolerated. A crueler assessment would be that it saves the film but the film needed no saving. It was unremarkable but very very pretty to look at. It's the supermodel of Cinemalaya.