is definitely a Summer of ’42 vibe
going on here, but there are also key differences. For one thing, it is set in
the Philippines and it is a shy tomboy who develops a crush deeper than mere
puppy love on the village’s scandalous beauty. Love hurts in Sigrid Andrea P.
Bernardo’s Anita’s Last Cha-Cha (trailer here), which screens
during New Filipino Cinema 2014 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San
a twelve year old girl, it is only natural Anita would have trouble relating to
her strict mother, ironically named Lolita, but the tensions between them have
gotten even worse since her beloved father passed away one year ago. She is
relatively happy playing kids’ games with the husky Goying and the future diva,
Carmen, but she knows she wants something different.
recognizes it when she first sees Pilar, a striking woman with a notorious
past. After ten years living in Manila, she has returned to their northern hamlet.
Anita’s mother does not think much of Pilar, but her friends are intrigued by
her air of mystery, while she is downright smitten. However, unbeknownst to
Anita, Pilar was once romantically linked to her cousin Oscar and has eyes to
rekindle their affair.
Cha-Cha is likely to find most of its
programming love on the GLBT festival circuit, it will still hold the interest
of viewers (or at least guys) who are as straight as a rail, thanks to
model-turned-thesp Angel Aquino’s dramatic presence. She has an earthy
sexuality that makes an impression, but she also shows some nice comedic chops
in Anita’s over-the-top fantasy interludes.
it is new-comer Teri Malvar who is really the film’s lead. She is terrifically
likable and expressive, conveying all that tweener awkwardness. If she wants,
she could have a long screen career ahead of her. In fact, Bernardo shows an
assured touch (or a run of good luck) when it comes to eliciting strong
performances from her young cast-members. As the bratty but fundamentally
sweet-natured Carmen and Goying, both Len-Len Frial and Solomon Mark De Guzman are
Cha-Cha’s most conspicuous
shortcomings are Bernardo’s flawed wrap-around segments framing the guts of the
film. Indeed, the intro (featuring the adult Anita serving as a drill
instructor) is inappropriately jokey and cheap looking, whereas the coda lays
on the running-through-fields-of-clover fantasy sequences far too heavily.
Nevertheless, Barnardo is quite surefooted
avoiding didacticism. The drama here revolves around the universal experience
of deeply digging someone, who does not return or even recognize that ardor. It
is a serious bummer, but that happens in life. A modest but sensitive tale of
youthful love, Anita’s Last Cha-Cha is
recommended for those appreciate coming of age films of all stripes when it
screens this Saturday night (6/14) as part of the YBCA’s annual New Filipino
Labels: Angel Aquino, Coming of age films, Filipino Cinema, New Filipino Cinema '14, YBCA