Friday, September 9, 2016

Camp Sawi

Bridgette (Bela Padilla) finds it hard to move on after her boyfriend of 10 years suddenly dumps her because she is not Chinese. Unable to deal with the frustration, she spends endless nights sulking and crying herself to sleep, until one night she accidentally stumbles upon the website of a certain Camp Sawi. Their tagline is “Move In to Move On” and the photos promise a good R&R experience to achieve just that. After a rickety plane ride, she finally arrives at the island and is immediately befriended by the other heartbroken women seeking refuge there. Jessica (Yassi Pressman) follows her three-month boyfriend to the bathroom after a game, and witnesses his “extra-curricular” activities with another basketball player. Gwen (Arci Muñoz) is dumped by her band’s co-vocalist through an original break-up song. Joanne’s (Kim Molina) fiancé dies in a freak accident minutes after proposing to her. And Clarisse (Andi Eigenmann) is the kept secret of a middle aged doctor. The program is headed by Camp Master Louie (Sam Milby), whose one ultimate rule for all of them is NOT to fall in love with him. What happens when they do?

The concept of such a camp is brilliant in itself. If there are rehabilitation facilities geared toward drug addicts and alcoholics, why shouldn’t there be one focusing on heartbreak? After all, isn’t love the greatest addiction of them all? The premise is not that farfetched. Interventions happen a lot, and the idea is quite similar, yet more appealing because of the vacation factor tossed in to complete the equation. Talking about vacation, the drone shots of the island were postcard ready; the beaches, plain gorgeous.

The best scene is perhaps that at the bonfire, when the girls decide to do a mini sharing of sorts, expounding on the details of their respective breakups. The chubby girl tells everyone her story and theorizes that such bad karma must have befallen her because she is ugly, to which Clarisse responds with the stereotypical beauty-is-only-skin-deep retort. The answer she gets is one hell of a burn, to the tune that she can easily say such a thing because she is NOT ugly. Her reply is perfect, though. It doesn’t matter who’s ugly and who’s not. In the end, they are all there because they want to be the other woman, the one their exes have replaced them with. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Beauty is relative at best and eventually becomes irrelevant because when it’s over, it’s over, regardless of your physical appearance.

The girls are all pretty. Feisty Arci Muñoz stands out, but the other girls also make their presence felt. Sam Milby serves as the hunk du jour, and his character is kind of hard to read. On one hand, you feel like he is an opportunistic son of a bitch obviously taking advantage of these women in their vulnerable state. On the other hand, you also see genuineness in him, perhaps a history shrouded in mystery, which makes him some sort of Deus Ex Machina because that background story is never revealed. The good thing is that it does not detract from the plot because you just end up speculating that he must have also suffered from something traumatic for him to undertake such endeavor. And I guess that is the film’s other strength, the empathy that the characters get to share without it coming off as too contrived.

Coming from Viva, my expectations for this film have been really low before entering the cinema, so it was really a pleasant surprise when I actually ended up liking it. Despite the clichés and some over the top melodrama, Camp Sawi feels like an honest take on how people deal with a breakup, a post-mortem written with a lot of wit, particularly from a woman’s point of view. In spite of that, anyone who has ever experienced trying to move on after a failed relationship will find this movie relatable enough to be a good watch.

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