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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 31, 2012

“Ang Nawawala” Movie Review: Will Cater To Young Hipster Crowd

MUSIC VIDEO director Marie Jamora’s full length film debut, “Ang Nawawala”, will definitely cater more to a limited younger crowd, particular those who consider themselves hipsters, belonging to a counter culture of nonconformity. The central character is Gibson (Dominic Roco), definitely a non-conformist if ever there was one, since he has refused to talk for the last ten years and just communicates by writing down or texting his thoughts. He always has his camera with him to shoot personal videos.

The movie starts a few days before Christmas and ends on New Year’s Eve. It begins with Gibson returning from the States in time for the holidays. We’re not really informed what he did there exactly. He’s fetched at the airport by his elder sister (theatre actress Jennie Jamora). His parents are Dawn Zulueta and Boboy Garovillo, and he has a younger sister in Sabrina Man. Slowly, we gather that Gibson stopped speaking when he saw his twin brother die when they were ten years old. But now, we see his brother (Felix Roco) conversing with him in their room, eating and smoking weed with him like he’s not at all dead.

He finds romance in a cool chick, Enid (Annicka Dolonius), who was dumped by her band vocalist boyfriend for another girl. There’s a connection between them through music (going to gigs, listening to old records in vinyl) and Enid initiates their lovemaking. Gibson finally speaks again because he’s in love, but Enid dumps him and goes back to her boyfriend. The movie ends on New Year’s Eve with Gibson finally telling his sleepy mom: “Mommy, si Gibson ‘to.”

Gibson’s being jilted by Enid comes as a big surprise because they were shown having a palpable connection through music, even with the album jackets of old vinyl records. We see them connecting while listening to music from their respective headsets and when Gibson lip synchs a song to convey what he feels for her. Compared to Gibson, Enid’s ex-BF is made to look like a dumb a-hole. So why would she like to reconcile with him?

Most ordinary viewers won’t be able to relate with the film, not only because a lot of the dialogue are in English but because you don’t really get to know what’s going on in the hearts and minds of the characters. The film banks on a lot of silences and maybe you should be a seer to figure out what’s really going on. You can feel there’s tension in Gibson’s family, especially between his mom and dad, but none of this is concretely articulated. If they were that torn up by the death of a family member, why are they still together? They belong to an affluent social class. They even have so many uniformed maids. Why don’t they consult the help of a family or a grief counsellor who can help them sort out their feelings? We can refer them to the Center for Family Ministries, if they care to.

Honestly, we cannot relate with them, especially with all the characters who are always wearing jackets, cardigans, long sleeved shirts when it’s so hot here. May winter ba sa Pilipinas? They don’t involve us emotionally. We can’t understand what they’re so uptight about, especially Dawn Zulueta. There are families with bigger problems than theirs who are able to cope in a much more sensible way. We’re wondering why Dawn accepted the role of the mom when it required so very little from her. She has minimal exposure and it could’ve been played by a lesser actress. Roco and Dolonius are competent in the lead roles, but nothing really exceptional.

Since Jamora is a music video director, she gets to use a lot of local music and even pays homage to old kundimans. She sometimes just gets carried away and some scenes are extended longer than necessary. The movie can certainly stand some trimming to make the pacing quicker.