Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Zig Dulay's Huling Halik - Cinematic Meandering

Ili and JM (Joeffrey Javier and Kenjie Garcia) decide to relive their early days as lovers in Baguio City a day before JM packs his stuff and moves to Manila. Though they’ve parted ways, JM somehow believes this would bring closure (and other things as well) to their tempestuous past; one that on several occasions had him cutting himself.

Amidst revelry of a fogbound Panagbenga Festival, the couple retraces sites they used to frequent: the Botanical Garden, Mines View, the Igorot Park, the little shop selling their favorite meal. Along with friends Ace and Brian (Jayjay Jimenez and Patrick Esteban), they even frolic in the woods. But as the hours drag on, Ili gets seemingly clamorous text messages and calls from his new girl friend, while JM gets impatient and intolerant. We soon witness a glimpse into their past – a heavily invidious JM and an inattentive lover in Ili. Couldn’t they enveigle a more amorous and conciliatory goodbye?

Director Zig M. Dulay follows the former lovers around Baguio with his handheld camera as his characters banter and flirt around with laidback demeanor and easy charm. Imbuing its narrative with a documentary feel, the first quarter is a compelling watch as we are roped into the mechanics of their relationship. We sat with due attention. Joeffrey Javier, Crisaldo Pablo's "
it" boy, looks relaxed, not to mention watchable. But when JM repeatedly bawls like a scorned wife every time Ili gets a call, the atmosphere briskly evolves into one that irritates and confuses. After all, their relationship as lovers ceased some time ago. Why the nagging resentment? Isn't JM leaving town for good, making his emotional outbursts nothing but misplaced sentiments?

Further on, this green-eyed scenario becomes redundant and mundane. It becomes clear that the story teller has lost his way as he blindly meanders into cluelessness. At this point, what could have been an exposition on the fleeting nature of relationship turns into the realm of desperate affection - aimless, unfocused, rambling.

Kenjie Garcia gives a spirited performance as he displays his enviable acumen to lacrimate from sun up to sun down. Why not? He won a Best actor Plum from some international award giving body, right? So with more than adequate braggadocio, he shows his audience how it is to cry! I was stunned! I've never seen someone cry this much not even in episodes of MMK, he must be going for a world record! Amazing!

We saw "Huling Halik" during its festival run in Greenbelt 3 and seeing Joeffrey Javier do well in two films (the other one was for Eduardo Roy, Jr.'s "Bahay Bata") gave a smile on our face. There is hope for Pink Film habitues!

"Huling Halik" could have soared with a more legible second half. Unfortunately, their last kiss was nothing but clenched teeth. Someone got lost on his way to narrative denouement.

Joeffrey Javier: Comfortable away from Crisaldo Pablo's exploitative and amateurish film works.

Brian and Ace doing a concupiscent version of "Midsummer Night's Dream" in the woods.

JM preps himself up for another round of crying!

Yun lang ang hinihingi ko sa 'yo, di mo pa maibigay! Isang araw lang!" laments JM. And as earlier forewarned, he cries again like there's no tomorrow! LOL

Kenjie Garcia and Joeffrey Javier

Jayjay Jimenez and Patrick Esteban

Traffic stopping briefs! :)


sineasta said...

I saw Jeoffrey in an ANC's short film (part of Kinse 'ata). Romance ang genre niya, and he did good there. So I thought, "Aba! Pwede!" Given the right project, he could do well. Then he came out in another CP film after that, and I said, "Anyare?!"

Cathy Pena said...

@ Jheck:

I think some actors just need "direction" and we all know Crisaldo Pablo's directorial quotient. I saw "Kinse" too!

Joeffrey's bad when he's with a bad director and "better" when someone actually tells him what to do. He has propensity kasi to speak in monotones like Jeff Luna. But he was a revelation in "Bahay Bata", I was pleasantly surprised. :)