Wednesday, October 9, 2019

#Jowable

♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Elsa (Kim Molina) is a young woman who wants nothing more than to have someone to call her own. Growing up with a single mother (Kakai Bautista), she believes that it is bad karma passed from parent to child how her mom changes boyfriends all the time while she herself has been single since birth. Given the circumstances, she becomes the bitter old maid in her circle of friends, spiting them for having a significant other that she can’t seem to get her hands on. Desperate, she does everything including job hopping to up her chances in finding a mate, but just can’t seem to get any luck. When she volunteers for a charity excursion for homeless children, she runs into a nun (Candy Pangilinan), who tells her that perhaps she has been single all along because she is being prepared to meet the right guy at the right time.

It’s good that Molina is getting some mainstream attention lately given her recent TV and movie stints. She rocked Rak of Aegis during her turn as the protagonist in that jukebox musical and it is undeniable that she has the talent. She appears to be getting pigeonholed, though, as far as mainstream roles are concerned. She is always the bitter single girl desperate for a love life. Hopefully this would just serve as a stepping stone for her to explore more roles that can maximize her singing and acting talent.

The narrative seems to be confused as to what it wants to be. The trailer was attention-grabbing because of the shock and awe vulgarity involved in it, far detached from the saccharine offerings we are served in the mainstream. Once you see the movie, though, you discover that most of the crass and specific brand of humor are already shown in the teaser trailer and accounts for, like, the entire first half of the entire material. The second half, on the other hand, makes a lot of detours.

For one, it serves as an impromptu tribute to teachers towards the end before abruptly swerving back to I-don’t-need-a-man-to-complete-me territory. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it isn’t as if the teacher subplot isn’t hinted upon right from the start, but the connection feels contrived to be honest. Elsa does not want to be a teacher, and the teacher in question was not bitter. The only similarity they have is that they’re both single, but the connection ends right there.

The narrative also depends a lot on spoon-feeding, as if insulting the intelligence of its audience by putting together a montage of dialogues and scenes before the film ends, like the lines haven’t spelled out the message without any attempt on subtlety in the first place. Or perhaps the writer just assumed that the message will somehow be lost in the murky second act. Or maybe Philippine cinema audiences are just dumb, which is hard to contest to be honest. The message is there, but somehow diluted by the presentation and lost its impact along the way.

In any case, the story has a lot to say about Filipino culture and traditions, both toxic and worth preserving. As far as romantic comedies are concerned, #Jowable avoids formula by taking a totally different direction, but there is just something missing that is hard to point out. It is still enjoyable, though, but does not really make that much of a difference in the saturated genre that it belongs to. Kudos to the actors, though, for being entertaining and putting up a fun ensemble comedy with a heart.

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