“Finding Agnes” stands out against the typical family narrative in a sad but realistic manner. Unlike previous family-centered films, this story doesn’t end with forgiveness and acceptance, but rather uses a complicated family relationship to guide a son to his mother’s memory and find love even after death.
The Filipino film was released Monday on Netflix, and though it starts with the classic trope of an estranged mother-son relationship, it quickly shifts focus to cultivating new familial connections and carrying on a family legacy.
The movie, directed by Marla Ancheta, follows business man Virgilio “Brix” Rivero, played by Jelson Bay, as he reunites with his mother, Agnes, who had left him for more than 25 years. But Brix is suddenly forced to come to terms with his mother’s death soon after her surprise return.
Agnes’ death is perhaps too abrupt, and Brix, along with the audience, only hear the news of her passing through his secretary Violet.
Instead of emotionally dwelling on his mother’s absence and death, Brix is motivated to finally visit Morocco, his mother’s urn in hand. There, his adopted sister Cathy Duvera, played by Sue Ramirez, joins him as he learns about his mother’s life, which stirs up uncomfortable truths about why Agnes left.
Even though Agnes isn’t physically present for the majority of the film, it is evident she emotionally affects her son and daughter throughout their trip. In fact, despite her early death in the film, Agnes’ character seems to come alive as Brix and Cathy learn the hidden parts of her life.
“Finding Agnes” touches on the significance of family, family legacy and domestic violence — it combines heartwarming moments of two children finding and carrying on a memory to discuss important yet dark themes of familial abuse.
The warm colors in scenes when Cathy and Brix are discovering Agnes’ life create a sense of nostalgia and reflect how much Agnes impacts their lives. Such scenes contrast with those in the Philippines where Brix works, which are mostly filled with bright white and grays.
During the film’s final scene, Brix hangs up his mother’s painting of him as a young boy swinging from a tree. As he sets it down, the lyrics, “It’s going to be a bright, bright sunshiny day,” from the song “I Can See Clearly Now,” play in the background, signaling a brighter future for him.
The film teaches the audience that family isn’t something that just disappears. Even though some of the characters’ loved ones might be gone, their memories continue to live through the minds of the living.
“Finding Agnes” begins with a common conflict of a distant mother-son relationship and launches into an exciting journey chasing a late mother’s life story. The film demonstrates that not all strained relationships have to result in reconciliation — they can still end in satisfaction and happiness.