‘Simplicity’ review: Spice-less girls

Oggs Cruz
‘Simplicity’ review: Spice-less girls
The film's lessons are loud, but they are all swimming in a sea of distaste

From the first shot in Kazuhiro Parungao and David Hulbert’s Simplicity where the camera lingers on Maria (Mary Joy Apostol), lying in her bed while strumming her guitar trying to come up with a decent song, it almost seems like the film will be about an artist struggling to create art.

Confounding comedy

It’s not.

What it’s about is Maria, who along with her ragtag team of spice-less girls, joins a talent show that is struggling for viewership in the hopes of winning a sizable amount of money and tickets to a resort. What winning the contest means for Maria and her friends ranges from everything to family, friendship and fame. The film isn’t really certain about this. In fact, it isn’t exactly certain what it wants to be.

GIRL BAND. Maria (Mary Joy) and her friends appear as a girl group in a show.

It is mostly composed of drab conversations that are sprinkled with awful jokes and uninspired sight gags. The talent portion of the talent show cuts frequently to those unimaginative conversations, completely stealing from the audience the meager pleasure of watching amateur dancers perform. Instead, its lead characters engage in such inanities like getting excited over ordered costumes, or wallowing about a friend who is late for her call time.

The film’s lessons are loud, but they are all swimming in a sea of distaste.

While the film is supposed to champion the power of female friends and their shared dreams, it also revels in the sight of Rhian Ramos and Solenn Heussaff – who are playing some alternate versions of themselves – violently sabotaging each other in between breaks of their hosting gig. The aim is, of course, humor, but the glaring disparity between the earnestness of its core narrative and the depravity of some of its comedic attempts is confounding.

SPECIAL PARTICIPATION. Solenn Heussaff and Rhian Ramos appears as hosts of the contest Maria and her friends participate in.

Appropriate title

Monotony would have been a more appropriate title.

While simplicity seems to apply to the film’s obvious lack of any ambition, monotony is a word that sums up the film’s overall appeal. The film’s visual palette is dull and dreary, whether it is showing the girls during their idle rambling, or when it is showcasing their unspectacular talent.

The scenes are stitched together in a haphazard fashion.

Characters such as Maria’s boyfriend (Kelvin Miranda) or a flamboyant choreographer (Agassi Ching) exist for no logical reason except to either provide a narrative thread that is frustratingly without a conclusion, or a punch line that falls miserably flat.

Actually, none of the characters develop. Maria, who starts out struggling to write a song, never writes a song. Her friends, who start out with barely a goal in life, also end with none. The film preoccupies itself with mundane matters, and while that is not exactly a problem if the film does so in the most creative of ways, Simplicity seems to be drowning in banality.

Simply put, Simplicity is a horrible mess.  – Rappler.com

Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ Tirad Pass. Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.

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