music used to be great at expressing young amour and heartsick yearning. Evidently, it still does in the Philippines. Some remarkably catchy tunes perfectly accompany
a damaged teen’s first significant love in Marie Jamora’s What Isn’t There (trailer here), which screens again today as part of the
2013 Slamdance Film Festival in Park City.
Bonifacio stopped speaking. He could if
he wanted to, but he doesn’t. He blames
himself for his twin brother’s death and assumes everyone else does too. His mother’s overbearing behavior does not
exactly help bring him out of his shell either.
Unfortunately, his beloved little sister Promise bears the brunt of her
control freak parenting. Bonifacio’s
only solace comes from his brother’s ghost conjured from his imagination and
his vintage music, until he happens to meet Enid del Mundo.
to his surprise, del Mundo does not seem to mind his silent ways. She is also a vinyl collector, whose tastes
include British New Wave and traditional Harana ballads. She is cute too. Viewers can hardly blame Bonifacio for
getting hung up on her, even though we know by now young love almost never runs
can dog WIT for being sentimental,
but it takes its characters and situations refreshingly seriously. Jamora and co-writer Ramon De Veyra clearly
think getting dumped is a pretty rotten thing to happen to a sensitive teenager,
which indeed it is. She also has an ear
for hummable and thematically appropriate pop songs and Haranas.
Roco’s Bonifacio is supposed to be introverted, but there are times he seems to
literally shrink on camera. In contrast,
Annicka Dolonius lights up the screen as del Mundo. While the large supporting ensemble all looks
right, Boboy Garovillo and Sabrina Man both add a memorable sense of earnest
down-to-earth-ness as Bonifacio’s father and younger sister, respectively.
is a lot like a Filipino John Hughes movie, but
with less comedy. Those who like bittersweet
teen dramas will really dig this one.
Recommended accordingly, What Isn’t
There screens again this afternoon (1/22) at Treasure Mountain Inn, as part
of this year’s Slamdance.
Labels: Coming of age films, Filipino Cinema, Slamdance '13