‘Walwal’ review: Old and haggard

Oggs Cruz
'Jose Javier Reyes seems to be the perfect person to offer the delayed retort to all the millennial gripes that have bombarded Philippine cinema. Sadly, Walwal isn’t that film.'

WALWAL. The idea of Jose Javier Reyes making a film about millennials isn’t really as inappropriate as it sounds. Screenshots from YouTube/Regal Entertainment

The idea of Jose Javier Reyes making a film about millennials isn’t really as inappropriate as it sounds.

A handful of millenials

Marie Jamora’s Ang Nawawala (2012), Gino Santos’ The Animals (2012) and #Y (2014) and Samantha Lee’s Baka Bukas (2016), works who have been recklessly labeled as millennial films, depict the generation with various degrees of accuracy.

Jamora and Lee romanticize its bonds and notions of alienation. On the other hand, Santos teeters towards caution of its propensity for excesses. In all these films, the perspective is always anchored on the youth, all yearning for some form of validation, or understanding, or acknowledgment from the world.

However, the attitudes of the generation are attributable to the successes of its predecessors.

Most of the films tagged as millennial depict its adults as either stereotypically stern or inflexible or humorously youthful, patronizingly allied to the youth’s aspirations. What is sorely missing in the films is a thoughtful appreciation of the social and economic forces that ushered the subject of disconnect that pervades the film.

Reyes, who has both written and directed romances, teen flicks and dramas, that are superbly curious and conscious of middle class-specific divides, guilt and yearnings, seems to be the perfect person to fill the gap, to offer the delayed retort to all the millennial gripes that have bombarded Philippine cinema.

Sadly, Walwal isn’t that film.

Screenshots from YouTube/Regal Entertainment

Mothballs and overuse

In fact, Walwal is nothing more than an ill-advised attempt to careen to trends. It treats its subject matter not as a phenomenon worthy of admiration or discourse but as a market to exploit, to plaster unimaginative narrative threads in the hopes that pantone hues, neon lights, social media and other outward expressions of youthful vibe will be enough to cover the stench of mothballs and overuse.

The film tells the story of a group of college friends facing some sort of trouble all at the same time.

Dondi (Elmo Magalona) is desperately trying to win back his girlfriend who has recently fallen in love with someone else. Marco (Kiko Estrada) is coming to terms with the fact that he has gotten a girl he casually had sex with pregnant. Bobby (Donny Pangilinan) is struggling trying to convince his father to let him take up filmmaking instead of continuing his father’s French Fries business. Intoy (Jerome Ponce), whose mother (Angeli Bayani) is a faded movie star, wants to know the identity of his father.

Written by Mark Gerald Foliente, the film lacks any desire to get beneath the surface of inane angst and ambitions.

The individual plots are all predictable. They are designed only to be easily digested, to be vehicles to further reduce the popularity of millennial tales into formula. It also doesn’t help that save for Ponce, who is granted the storyline with the most leeway for emotional intensity, all of the performances are bland and wooden.

Bumbling characters

The only thing young in Walwal are its bumbling characters.

Everything else is old and haggard. – 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