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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.

Feb 26, 2014

Unfriend Movie Review: Gritty Indie Film About A Desperate Lonely Gay Boy

“UNFRIEND” is the film of Director Jay Altarejos that made waves at the recent Berlinale’s Panorama Section called “compelling”, “stylish” and “powerful” by international critics. He has helmed several pink films before like “Lalake sa Parola”, “Lihim ni Antonio”, “Laro sa Buhay ni Juan”, but “Unfriend” is his first work to be acclaimed worldwide. The germ of the story is inspired by the real life incident where a gay boy shot to death his secret lover inside a mall in 2011, something that was also explored in Ronald Carballo’s unreleased “Pikit-Mata”.

The movie focuses on a straight-acting gay teenager, David (played by theatre actor Sandino Martin). His grandmother (Boots Anson Roa) raised him while his parents both work abroad. The film starts with him making love with his boyfriend, Jonathan (Angelo Ilagan) on Christmas eve. After their tryst, Jonathan drops him and tells David to forget him. David is heartbroken, especially when he sees Jonathan with someone new on Facebook. He becomes desperate, carves Jonathan’s name on his arm and we see him walking through the crowd aimlessly, planning something deadly inside his mind. He goes to a gaybar and allows himself to be picked up by another gay and they do the act in an abandoned building like animals. He continues to pine for Jonathan and this leads to tragedy right on Christmas Day.

“Unfriend” shows how the internet can be dangerous, what with information easily available online to reveal to you some deadly secrets of other people or tell you things you should not know as a teenager, like how to buy firearms illegally and how to operate them through youtube.

Sandino Martin inhabits his role as the lonesome gay teen looking for love and turning to violence once he’s spurned. You can feel the desperation slowly growing inside of him. This is an impressive film debut of this theatre actor we first saw in “Piaf”. He’s ably supported by Boots Anson Roa as his “lola” who’s clueless about his plight and by Angelo Ilagan as the object of his affection. Those who appreciate indie films will enjoy the film language employed by Altarejos in “Unfriend”. The liberal use of the shaky handheld camera with natural lighting might alienate those who appreciate only mainstream films, but it’s effectively utilized here to give it a more gritty grimy texture that’s appropriate to the material.