CINEMALAYA 2013: “Babagwa” (2013, Jason Paul Laxamana) – Review by Gab Macarubbo

Babagwa-4_0RATING: 10/10

Director: Jason Paul Laxamana
Cast: Alex Medina as Greg, Joey Paras as Marney, Alma Concepcion as Daisy and Chanel Latorre as Neri
Screenplay: Jason Paul Laxamana

 There are two kinds of film in this world- the ones that move the audience, and the ones that are moved by the audience. However, allow me to call this top-notch piece of art as a “once-in-a-blue-moon” obra maestra simply because I see it as a film that strictly and consistently takes into consideration both substance and visuals that sum up with an inevitably enjoyable experience.

Generally, I was a bit dissatisfied with the films that I’ve watched the past few days…but that was until I was able to watch Babagwa. The moment I saw the outline of the story, I immediately fell in love with it. Time and time again, whenever I am asked on what makes a movie good, I would always tell how diversity of attacks, approaches, or angles becomes important in the production process and in the overall presentation of the film. No matter how “heavy” the story concept is, if the way it is presented can easily be tracked, then right then and there, you have failed in conveying the message that the story possesses. Dynamism is key.

The story focuses on Greg, a former bikini model who resorts to online scamming as a way of living. He calls his targets as his “prospects” By God knows how, he begins to harbour an intimate fondness over Daisy, a kind and charitable matron whom he meets only through a social networking site. Now, like what Greg has told his handler Marney over and over again, it is not his first rodeo in double-crossing people in cyberspace. So to some, it may come to a surprise to witness a ruthless stranger who preys on lovesick people suddenly had his heart beating strongly for an old lady that is a hundred miles away from him.

Yes, the theme it used for its framework is overly used and generic, but then again what makes it special is the way it toyed with the ideas of deception, fantasy and genuine love. Another thing I liked about this is the choice of character for the protagonist. You have a rude, greedy and selfish guy who begins to soften by the end of the movie just because he actually got carried away a lot more than what he had planned with getting to know a girl almost twice his age.

If you watched closely, you can feel the sincerity of its message in a subtle and simple form- that love is never a hasty matter. Love takes time, proximity, understanding and a lot more to consider yourself to be in love with a person.

The movie itself was a smorgasbord that hits the Filipino taste right on the spot. Babagwa is more than a roller coaster of a ride. More than a series of laughs, anxiety, pain, sympathy and joy, it is also a part of reality that we really can’t deny. After all, you can’t legitimately appreciate something if you cannot relate to it one way or the other.

Just by listening to the sound of the crowd reaction, you can tell that they have been moved BY the film, not the other way around. Jason Paul Laxamana once more exceeds an already high standard of quality cinema. A piece bound on the Filipino realms but deeply transcends the global barriers of identity. By showing the transformation of Alex Medina’s character, whether in a serious tone or in an anecdotal way, still, it still would have made the message clear, making it a very successful product for the old and the young alike.

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