‘Pansamantagal’ review: More manipulative than meaningful
At a beach resort, a mistress (Gelli de Belen) taking a break from her illicit relationship is befriended by a man (Bayani Agbayani).
Elsewhere, the matriarch (Perla Bautista) of a publishing house and her loyal assistant (Ronnie Lazaro) are awaiting the return of their star author whose latest best-selling romance novel sparks hope for their failing business. Back in the beach resort, both the mistress and a resort employee (Chacha Balba) have bonded over discussions on lessons of love from the novel, sex, and relationships.
Ambitious and layered
Pansamantagal is surprising in the sense that it is both ambitious and layered.
In 2018, director and writer Joven Tan has churned out Petmalu, a teen flick that suffers from its simplistic moralism, Wander Bra, a superhero movie that is weighed down by its insistence on focusing on the lowest of entertainment denominators which are sex and slapstick, and Otlum, a horror film that is starved of any real imagination. Pansamantagal, if compared to those films, is a gem.
Perhaps it is.
The film is a diamond in the rough, a film of observably sincere sentiment that seems too obsessed with vulgarity to be of any real merit.
Perhaps the most unfortunate thing about Pansamantagal is that it never rises above the muck. It relies on the strength of its premise, on the clever idea that the banal conversations about unhealthy romances, penis sizes, and unrequited passions would elegantly converge with the melancholy of the printed word surrendering to obsolescence.
When the film inevitably fails to match the beauty of its profound proposition, it ends up becoming a huge disappointment.
Lack of sophistication
Pansamantagal stumbles with such a flagrant lack of any sophistication in the manner it tries to connects the dots.
In the beginning, the film seems to be content with an aptly sparse plot, beholden not with all sorts of twists and turns to bewitch its audience but conversations and dialogues between its characters. In fact, Pansamantagal was starting to feel like the film where Tan finally showed an interest in subtlety, in filmmaking that had nothing to do with low-rent spectacle but on impressions of how human beings relate.
Frustratingly, Tan is not just too obsessed with coarse humor but also with pointless garish melodrama.
Pansamantagal’s hackneyed conclusion represents Tan’s propensity for baloney, forcing a needless tragedy for unearned tears. With just one foolish decision to go for excess instead of trusting the already potent material to speak for itself, the film suddenly becomes more manipulative than meaningful.
Everything falls apart
Pansamantagal is a masterclass in how opportunities can be wasted.
It is utterly frustrating to watch how everything falls apart. – 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.