Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Nakalimutan Ko Nang Kalimutan Ka

Jaz (Alex Gonzaga) and Migs (Vin Abrenica) first meet in Bataan. She is there to check out the Ruined Bar which is popular for its spoken word gigs. He is there because he is brokenhearted after his fiancée leaves him without an explanation. The two enjoy their time together and engage in a rebound romance. One year later, he leaves her after one call from his ex. Unable to move on, she seeks the help of Dr. Rolex (Candy Pangilinan), a quirky doctor who claims that she can cure heartbreak by literally changing a patient’s heart. The tag line of her clinic, NSKTN KLINIKA, is: “Change your heart. Change your mind. Change your life!” after all. Jaz arrives in a consultation room full of patients who are desperate to get rid of their memories for the sake of moving on. When her turn comes, she hesitates, but eventually decides to have the procedure done once and for all.

The film is dull, and I am not saying this in a figurative sense. The film is literally dull. You can tell by the choice of neon and vivid tones that the director was going for something bright and perky, which could have helped in making the atmosphere more vibrant. That sets the audience’s mood, you know. However, for some reason the colors do not register well onscreen. Instead, they appear rather blurry and with some sort of greyish tone. It just feels like an opportunity lost to deliver a glossier end product.

In terms of acting, Gonzaga’s style has always been leaning more on Rufa Mae’s, who appears in a cameo. You know how she uses her pitchy voice and exaggerated movements to deliver a portrayal that was amusing 10 years ago but just feels dated and passé now? The difference, perhaps, is that Gonzaga can also do decent drama, but for some reason the two distinct techniques do not jive well. The good news is that the second half has more concentration of feels, which is why the trajectory of her portrayal stabilizes as the film reaches its climax. In the end, she proves that she is still capable of headlining a movie, although she obviously won’t be winning over all of her critics with this project alone.

Kimpoy (Jerald Napoles) is a good sidekick but the decision to cast him for nothing more as comic relief is evident with the jokes that he cracks, most of which do not really connect and fall flat. This is confusing, because he has his own dramatic moments as well but as part of the audience you do not know whether you should be taking it seriously or if it is still supposed to be funny. It’s nice, though, that the friend zone subplot is not forced. Sometimes, a friend coming fresh from a breakup needs exactly just that, a friend. Not another rebound.

It is also good thing that they do not anchor the narrative on the erasure of memories subplot of the clinic because it just feels like a local rehash of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and that film already does an excellent job in pushing its unique view about moving on and letting go. Instead, you get to see Pangilinan and the clinic just at the beginning and towards the end. Jaz does all of the reminiscing and flashbacks BEFORE the procedure, instead of going down the Memento route for the entire duration of the movie. It is a wise decision and the story flow that they choose helps you relate more to the heartbreak.

The story features Bataan as the obligatory excursion, which is a good thing because we get to see what there is to see there. That province is not that far away from Manila, but every time someone invites us to go there we always end up not going because there seems to be nothing much to see. At least now we are aware of some of the tourist hotspots for future weekend getaways.

Perhaps what the film helps popularize more, though, is the growing fandom of spoken word as performance art. Juan Miguel Severo has a cameo as himself performing his Wet Pillows monologue. That guy is just so intense onscreen you have to wonder how moving that speech must be if heard live. Gonzaga gets to perform her own piece, too, and it is just as emotive and with enough feels. Overall, what Nakalimutan Ko Nang Kalimutan Ka offers is an honest view on breaking up and moving on. Toned down a bit as far as hysterics and slapstick are concerned, it could have been a better movie.

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