Ten Little Mistresses, Prime Video’s first original Filipino movie, is the camp murder-mystery comedy we deserve.
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Slight spoilers ahead.
The hits keep on coming for Philippine entertainment. After a year filled with hit shows, talked-about movies, and Filipino actors going international, 2023 looks to continue that momentum. And one of the first big projects of the year just dropped with the release of Jun Robles Lana’s Ten Little Mistresses, the first original Filipino movie for Prime Video. The pressure is real as the streamer’s first local effort of its category, but Ten Little Mistresses happily lands on its two stilettoed feet as a prime example of Pinoy comedy and humor.
The story, which is an Agatha Christy-meets-Pinoy-camp exposition, is about ten mistresses finding out who killed their lover is unlike anything we’ve seen in local cinema. But before you go and get that Prime Video subscription, we rounded up a few things we love (and didn’t) about the film to give you a better sense if it’s worth your coin.
EUGENE DOMINGO, PERIOD
There’s a reason why Eugene Domingo is considered a comedy queen. No matter what role she takes on, Ms. Domingo will always serve, and this movie is no exception. The moment the film began and we got the shot of Eugene with blue eyes, we already knew she was going to deliver. As head maid Lilith, Eugene is a force in every scene she’s in and the guiding compass for the movie’s narrative.
Her comedic timing is impeccable, and she can easily switch it up during the more intense scenes. And Lilith’s interactions with her contemporaries, played by a lovely Donna Cariaga, add that fun extra layer. Ten Little Mistresses is yet another reminder that Eugene Domingo is one of the most captivating screen stars in Philippine cinema.
THE A+ CAST
The whole cast must have been allergic to bad acting because there is not one weak link among them. You could tell John Arcilla loved playing Valentin, because he just had fun with the role and went full-on suave the whole time. Meanwhile, each of the ten mistresses shines on their own accord, with not one left to falter. The actresses embodied the personalities of each to damn perfection, which made them memorable. Remarkably, not one of the mistresses was upstaged.
Standouts include Kris Bernal as the dumb blonde Diva, Carmi Martin as the grand Magenta, Christian Bables as the blunt Lady G, Sharlene San Pedro as the Korean-loving Moon Young who uses her love of K-culture to help her forget about her problems (mood), and Arci Muñoz as the mystic Aura. Everyone in the cast did a great job, but Arci was a scene-stealer with the way she embodied the over-the-top Aura. (She needs a spin-off TBH.) An all-around phenomenal ensemble.
FLOWERS TO THE COSTUMES DEPARTMENT
Someone give costume coordinator Criscel Noble and hair and wig stylist Jaydee Jasa awards now, because they did that. What amazes about Ten Little Mistresses is how integral the hair and costumes are to the story. It’s like they’re a character in the movie, too. Each mistress has their own defined character that is enhanced by the clothes they wear. Not only are the costumes and hair lovely to look at, but they help tell the story that each character is trying to say. The looks just take the film’s camp to a whole other level.
WHODUNIT, PINOY STYLE
When Jun Robles Lana first wrote this movie, he had the ingenious idea of adding mistresses to the murder mystery. And it paid dividends. What helps make this film stand out is the inclusion of Pinoy pop culture, humor, and other camp elements. It’s almost dumb to think about how the movie revolves around ten mistresses finding out who killed Don Valentin, but that’s the beauty of it. The jokes and over-the-top performances often land with the side comments being some of the funniest moments of the entire movie. It has that fresh edge and vibe that only could come from its Pinoy lens.
UNEVEN CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
While the entire cast is strong, that doesn’t mean their character arcs get a medal. Inevitably, some of the mistresses don’t get fully fleshed out even though the film hints at something more. It’s appreciated that the movie tries to give its stars moments to shine, such as the feuds between the women established early on. But it could have gone with it further with hints of character development not being fully explored. It’s a testament to the high caliber acting that we didn’t mind that much how most of the women stuck to their set archetype.
THE STORY IS NEAR-PERFECT
Let’s start by saying that Jun Robles Lana made a fine movie as he weaved together a competent murder mystery awash in the Pinoy identity. However, there were points where the story could have been better told. For starters, the big reveal isn’t as explosive as you’d think it is. Second, a revelation unveiled halfway through the movie could have been better reserved for later in the final act to make for an exciting final act.
It’s a big moment that mainly gets swept under the rug as the movie continues. Finally, you can tell that the film was trying to deliver a message of women’s empowerment, but it could have been handled with a more deft hand. There’s a bit of a struggle to wrap that theme on a bow by the movie’s conclusion.
Overall, Ten Little Mistresses is a great movie. Exceptional acting, stellar costumes, and comedy that hits. Sure, the film may wobble here and there, but those rarely take away from the enjoyment of watching this body of work. It’s cooky, campy, funny, absurd, and off-kilter in the best way possible. Jun Robles Lana was given a budget to bring to life his artistic vision and sensibilities that are rooted in the particulars of Pinoy camp. And he delivered.
Ten Little Mistresses is now streaming on Prime Video.
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