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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.

Nov 18, 2013

Yeng Constantino Makes An Impressive Acting Debut In 'shift'

YENG CONSTANTINO is a revelation in “Shift”, her first acting role and first full length film. She’s very effective in her role as Estela, a tomboyish girl with flamboyant red hair who takes care of her younger sister while their mom works abroad. She works as a call center agent (a job she doesn’t really like) and falls in love with a senior co-worker, Felix Roco as Trevor, even if she’s very much aware that he is gay and is in love with a foreign guy.

Suffering from unrequited and impossible love, Yeng succeeds in credibly portraying the nuances and quirks of her character who leads an obviously unsatisfactory and empty life. We won’t be surprised if she’d later win a best new movie or breakthrough actress award for this movie, which is also expertly directed by very talented newcomer Siege Ledesma who’s definitely a great addition to our list of female directors.

Felix Roco also excels in his role as the discreet Trevor who sincerely treasures Yeng as a friend and nothing else. Alex Vincent Medina appears only in two sequences as Yeng’s supportive friend and again, he makes quite an impression, proving once again that there are no small roles, only small actors.

Ledesma has come up with a very well crafted film that is so contemporary and hip in its flavour. Even the exchanges of dialogue between the various characters are so amusing. The splendid production design, the superb cinematography and the very contempoary music (with very apt songs and Yeng gets to sing her own composition) all contribute beautifully to a finely orchestrated whole, including the use of chatbox and cellphone messages blown up on the screen (also used in “Bakit Di Ka Crush ng Crush Mo” and “She’s the One”, but very much better executed in “Shift”.) Ledesma’s script also captures the call center culture adequately: the competition between teams, the restlessness of call center agents and their colorful love affairs, the prevalence of macho gays or phaminta and trannies. The ending perfectly nails the uncertain future most BPO employees fear, when Yeng is asked on cam: “How do you see yourself five years from now?”

“Shift” is one of two current movies about the call center phenomenon. The other one is the mainstream comedy “Call Center Girl”. Let’s see if it would be as effective as “Shift”, which is certainly one of the best films we saw in the current Cinema One Filmfest. The others are “Kabisera” (with Joel Torre in another great performance after “On the Job” as a father who resorts to drug pushing to give his family a good life) and “Saturday Night Chills” (with Rayver Cruz and Matteo Guidicelli as aimless young men and their descent into hell where there is no turning back.)