Tuesday, September 17, 2019

I'm Ellenya L.


Millennial Ellenya Lakampati (Maris Rascal), aka Ellenya L, has always dreamed of becoming a social media celebrity like her idol Sue Ramirez. The only problem is that she doesn’t really have any online presence to speak of. Her father (Gio Alvarez) is ever supportive, creating fake accounts to like her daughter’s posts, while her grandmother (Nova Villa) is rather apprehensive and believes her granddaughter should focus more on a real career instead of job hopping every other month or so. When she meets Kyle (Pat Sugui), a popular content creator and manager, she grabs the opportunity to pose as a legit influencer even when she’s really not. Counting on the help of her best friend Peng (Iñigo Pascual), Ellenya L will stop at nothing to reach social media super stardom. The question is, how far will she go to achieve her dream and, in the end, will it all be worth the challenge?

We cannot deny the power that the internet currently wields as far as influence is concerned. After all, this is what gave rise to this new breed of influenzahs, most of whom are just popular for popularity’s sake. It begs the question, though, what will happen to these people if the internet abruptly shut down tomorrow and we suddenly went back to the Stone Age where survival does not rely on how many people liked or shared your posts? Gone are the days when the youth aspired for a career based on skills that contribute something valuable to society.

If you get super annoyed with a character who is supposed to be annoying, does that mean that the actor portraying the role did something right? If that’s the case, then Rascal should get an award or something, because she was so effective like that. Every time you see her attempts on validation through social media, the lengths she goes through to get noticed, it just irritates the hell out of you. But perhaps this is just an inescapable truth in today’s world, and she manages to embody that specific demographic convincingly.

This is still a love team-driven narrative, though, so you have the obligatory best friends falling in love subplot. Rascal and Pascual are okay as a duo and the social media hook is strong enough to pierce through the teenybopper presentation. We already know how the story ends from the get go, which gives us enough leeway to focus more on what gimmicks they will use to make the plot more interesting. The climax made a lot of people in the cinema laugh out loud, in all fairness to the cast and crew.

As annoying as this film is, it does present a good case study on how a world dependent on internet fame as well as virtual thumbs-ups functions. In this regard, director Boy II Quizon effectively captures the zeitgeist and imparts a valuable lesson that will probably be lost on the way to its target audience anyway, but at least the attempt is there. In a few million years when our race goes extinct, whatever alien race finds the remains of our civilization will definitely learn a lot about how this particular time period in human history worked by watching this film.

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