Sunday, July 28, 2013

Instant Mommy

♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Bechayda (Eugene Domingo) is a production assistant in a long distance relationship with Kaoru (Yuki Matsuzaki) who is based in Osaka and is having a hard time processing his divorce. Their relationship is defined by the daily video chats they have over Skype conversing in a mix of Japanese and Tagalog about random everyday stuff happening in their lives. He and his parents are excited about the child’s birth, hopefully a son that would serve as heir to his business empire. She, on the other hand, would not stop working because she has a younger brother and a father to support. When her pregnancy, and in effect, her relationship with her long-distance lover are put in danger, she results in hatching an intricate plan to assure that she would not end up the loser, but things just do not turn out the way she expects them to.

The movie seems to have an identity crisis as the overall feel tends to shift from indie to mainstream, and at times, maindie by straddling both at the same time. The main premise requires some serious suspension of disbelief because the alternative does not require similar complications for such a simple misunderstanding. Thus, everything feels a bit exaggerated, although this exaggeration is justified towards the end, but not without dragging the audience around while the plot tries to find out what it really wants to do with the material.

It is not difficult to imagine it as a mainstream Star Cinema offering. If it was and they go all out with the promotion, it would probably make a killing at the tills. But because this is a Cinemalaya entry, the direction of the film swerves a lot to accommodate that very fact. It is because of this, perhaps, that the ending leaves the audience a bit confused. On one hand, the indie aspect asks you to read between the lines, but on the other hand the mainstream facet kind of leaves you wanting for some spoon-feeding, a simple explanation on what has just transpired. It gives you that wanting feeling, as if something has gone amiss and you just could not pinpoint which.

After the main premise is summarily dismissed just like that, you would be left wondering what else is there to explore, and the film answers that with another twist, which is the object of the confusion above-mentioned. Perhaps it is the film's intention to make you think on your own and leave you hanging like that. If not for Eugene Domingo, it might have been a bit dragging to watch, but because people have already been accustomed to her unique acting repertoire, it is easy to be forgiving.

The chemistry with Matsuzaki is also there, and the online banter between the two is truly a delight to watch. While it is Domingo who carries the film because she is the main focus of the story after all, Matsuzaki also keeps the audience entertained even if most of his scenes are just limited to appearing on a laptop screen. As for the support cast, they tend to mimic the same support characters present in mainstream Star Cinema movies, except that here they have at least a semblance of character development, having to deal with their own life dramas even though those dramas are not as detailed as those of the leads. At least, they are not cardboard characters.

Despite the absurdity, a good story is still present here, which is something enough to entertain, although as already stated, the appeal seems to be a mix of both indie and mainstream, which makes it seem a bit out of place and gives you the feeling that it could have done well without Cinemalaya anyway.

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