Sunday, May 29, 2011

Third World Happy


After the death of his parents in a vehicular accident, Wesley (Sam Milby) decides to leave everything and everyone behind to spend a solitary life in the US via a Fulbright Scholarship. Thirteen years later he receives a phone call about another death in the family, prompting him to go back home. At the wake he meets several people who would serve as a catalyst for him to seek closure from past issues and finally move on with his life, among them Aylynn (Jodi Sta. Maria) and his Kuya Danny (Richard Quan).

The film bored me but this is perhaps because it is far from your typical mainstream flick which tends to abuse a lot of factors just for the sake of being dramatic or catching the viewer’s rather short attention span. This film’s presentation is so simple to the point that it somehow loses the intended dramatic effect in some scenes, although it seems to successfully convey its message clearly to its audience. There is an awkward silence lingering throughout the movie, which somehow effectively captures not just the atmosphere of being in a wake, but also the state of mind of the protagonist. It is that feeling of longing for something to end just to ease the pain, although in reality one is still in denial and desires otherwise because once you let go you would know that it is finally over. In short, the prevalent issue tackled in the movie is about moving on.

There is a tiny twist at the end of the movie which you might see coming halfway through, you just have to look for some visual cues and what seems to be faulty editing. Many scenes are dark, with some of them very much so that you could no longer recognize the actor playing the role. This is specifically true in that scene where Aylynn comes back home after the wake and she has a heart-to-heart talk with her son. You could barely see the child’s face. I have no idea if this was intentionally done for the sake of symbolism or if it is some sort of limitation in the production, or some technical glitch at the cinema?

Sam Milby’s acting is improving. Perhaps indie is the answer to the question that is honing his craft. Since the movie does not rely much on the brilliance and abuse (or lack thereof) of its technical aspects or production values, the focus is then obligatorily shifted to the acting of the cast. Jodi Sta. Maria delivers, as usual. The supporting cast is also commendable. This is perhaps, Milby's best performance to date, subtle yet heartfelt.

The movie’s theme about moving on is evident not just in the case of the protagonist but also in that of the other supporting characters, like Aylynn for example. There is also that bit about Wesley’s issues and his Kuya Danny’s. There is an attempt to insert a soap opera formula in terms of a fatherhood issue, although this is not expounded and intentionally left hanging, perhaps to toss in some ambiguity into the equation, or maybe just so that the focus would not stray that much from the two brothers since the Kuya plays a pivotal role in the unfolding of the plot.

Watch it if you are not the type of person who gets bored easily. The story is not something you have not seen before, but the theme is something that one could easily relate to. Most often than not we deal with some traumatic event in our lives, or maybe a string of events that are just as depressing. We think that the solution is to leave everything behind and start with a clean slate. That might be possible, but this film points out the obvious: it is not that easy, and sometimes closure is really crucial in order for someone to really move on.

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