Best of 2016: Jaclyn Jose's surprise but well-deserved Palme d'Or


When Jaclyn Jose took home the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival—becoming the first Southeast Asian woman joining the ranks of Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, and Meryl Streep—the jury’s choice was heavily questioned. Critics called her performance more of a supporting role, but members of the jury quickly came to her defense, with French director Arnaud Desplechin saying, “She is the film. Have you seen the performance she gave? She broke my heart.”

He was of course referring to Jose’s portrayal of the title character in Brillante Mendoza’s Ma Rosa, as a detained crystal meth-dealing matriarch from the slums whose children attempt to free her and their father. Jose says that the greatest challenge for her in playing Rosa was not acting at all, where for many of her 32 years in the industry, she played mainly large, comedic, and quite campy characters.

For Jose, the Cannes Film Festival was the opportunity to be a spectator. It was enough to see internationally reputable publications such as Vanity Fair praise her daughter (and co-star), Andi Eigenmann’s sense of style on the Cannes red carpet, and to watch actresses she had long admired—like Marion Cotillard and Charlize Theron—most likely take the prize in her category. The win may not have come as a surprise to anyone else who saw the film, but Jose was beautifully blindsided.

Following the accolade, Jose says the greatest challenge is having “to behave like I have a Palme d’Or.” She laughs and says, “Like if I’m going to the grocery na naka-tsinelas tsaka shorts, siguro ngayon sandals naman tsaka shorts.”

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