Caregiver is about Sarah,a grade school English teacher,who joins the 150,000 Pinoy Overseas Foreign Workers, working in the United Kingdom to support her husband, Teddy,in making a better living for their family. Director Roño and scriptwriter Chris Martinez paint a very clear portrait as to what Sarah is willing to sacrifice for her job as a caregiver in a nursing home in London. Most moving of the sacrifices Sarah is willing to take is the possibility of leaving her lone son (John Manalo) without any parents. More than just a chronicle of the Filipinos’ experience working as nurses and caregivers in the UK, this story also charts Sarah’s journey to self-discovery from a submissive wife who makes sacrifices to make way for her Teddy’s aspirations to an empowered woman who finds dignity and pride in a humbling job as a caregiver in London.
One thing that I would like to point out in this film is that the movie portrayed being a caregiver as a thankless job and a big sacrifice on one’s part especially if one is a professional in his/her mother country. It made the occupation look less desirable to the viewers. Although many Filipinos will identify strongly with the characters, the twist ending may surprise conservative viewers. What I liked about this movie was that it didn’t deteriorate into melodrama and tear-fest conditions like so many Philippine movies do, but well, I have to say Sharon Cuneta’s character probably would not have gotten a handsome husband as depicted in the film. Is that harsh? Perhaps nitpicky? Sure, but realism is the way to go with his film.
The most significant character in the film’s London scenes is Sarah’s husband who has deteriorated into a pathetic alcoholic mess, more so because his masculinity is greatly disadvantaged by the fact that Sarah was able to find success when he cannot do so. The ending where she decided to stay and leave her husband is brave. This is where I keep on referencing the book, ‘cuz in it, Tess D’Uberville died, though I laud Sarah’s action, I find it puzzling. I felt that its a twist that the filmmakers had to do to make it different. I maybe nitpicking, but hey, I guess I’ve expected more from the movie. In short, they could go without it and won’t change the story, it had no bearing and importance, aside from lengthening the movie.
The theme of Filipino caregivers in foreign lands, however, isn’t new. I’ve seen it done better before and they also expand into uncharted territories such as alienation, racism, and why Filipinos seek offshore employment. Also, people from industrialized nations respect people who care for others as their main occupation. I think that the likes of the character of Margaret, Mr Morgan’s daughter are very uncommon. Children of old people like the character of David are NORMALLY appreciative of what caregivers do to their old parents. Maybe due to the fact this isn’t my culture I am not getting some aspects of the film, but I did enjoy the film, don’t get me wrong. If you’re looking for contemplative cinema though, you might get a bit disappointed with most of the offerings since Philippine cinema has a tendency to be very talky, meaning the plot is usually carried out through dialogue.