Pearl Harbor, Titanic, Australia, etc. -- putting in romance to historical stories became a proven formula to box-office and (sometimes) Oscar success. This "postulate" is etched to Hollywood guidebooks and should never be challenged.
But Filipinos like breaking laws. Baler is Mark Meily's attempt to challenge the Hollywood formula.
The tweak Baler did: make history revolve around the romance...instead of romance adjusting to history. Clever huh?
To explain further, in most historical-romantic films...love is the palabok (maybe to make history easier to chew) But in Baler, history is the "rekado" and romance is the rice...the carbs, the one that will fill you up.
But it's main source of discrimination over other historical-romantic films is also its pitfall. Baler's approach can be polarizing. You will either find it too cheesy...or an inaccurate, half-baked historical film. I'm in the middle of both, cause I struggled in enduring Anne Curtis' lines (e.g. "Gusto kitang makapiling ngayon, bukas at magpakailanman") and in getting more details of the events in Baler (which I consider as the one of the most significant events in Philippine history).
But aside from this flaw...what irritates me most was the inconsistent cinematography.
Example: in the first attack in the church of Baler, i was confused if it happened during the day or during the night. From inside the church, it appeared night...from outside, the sun was as intense as hell.
There is one scene in the film that I admire, and I think it will be etched in the image bank of Philippine cinema: the holy mass being delivered by Michael De Mesa just by the door of the church...with Filipinos hearing it from the outside, and Kastilas hearing it from the inside, with only one thin wooden door separating them. We are united in Christ no matter what.
But we must all watch our for Mark Meily. He showed in Baler that he is ready to take on bigger and better projects. He showed in Baler that he could be the director to beat in the future.
Oh by the way, a Hollywood film challenged the historical-romance law na pala...Atonement, which I still consider as one of the best films of 2007!