Monday, August 25, 2003

Starring: Katya Santos, Wendell Ramos, Vhong Navarro, Bobby Andrews, Ryan Eigenmann, Jordan Herrera, etc.
Written and Directed by: Quark Henares
Viva Films

Keka is a young 20-something whose boyfriend (Jordan Herrera) gets offed by some fratters. Over the next five years, she returns the favor by killing them one by one. Meanwhile, Wendell Ramos’ cop character tries to solve the mystery behind the murders, only to discover later that the perpetrator is the girl he’s fallen in love with.

Suspension of disbelief is required in Quark Henares’ latest feature film. Keka doesn’t overtly seek to justify murderous vengeance; it doesn’t even appear to have a deeply-rooted social agenda. The characters and the film simply tell it like it is, and one isn’t really called in to care for them, at least in the emotional department. This may not sit well with many movie goers (like me), especially given that the amount of exposed skin is indirectly proportional to Katya’s breast size.

If anything, the film shines in its tightness, a cleanly-edited film that runs high on the indie-treatment barometer, non-linearity and all. The script is equally engaging, a good attempt at expressing apathy and disillusionment using modern language. Visually, Henares has succeeded in transporting me to that alternate reality, to make real what is inherently unreal. There’s a rawness to it all, tight and clean yet bathed with atmospheric detritus, a reflection of the irony of immersing the fantasy in reality, the environment where the characters exist.

But this is where I find Keka’s greatest fault. To me, the film trips and stumbles in the performances. If only the actors had enough of a grip on the nuances of the script and a full awareness of the vision to deliver textured performances then would the film have been more engaging. It’s an almost-there scenario once again, and the hiccups sadly happen quite often.

During the film, we get to see the two protagonists in separate ‘interview sessions,’ cinematic devices that are supposedly meant to add a facet of character reality, the way we learn more about celebrities when they’re interviewed in talk shows. This device, while refreshing in itself, didn’t work well for me overall in Keka. Celebrity interviews aren’t always intimate, in that you only get a ‘press release’ which isn’t accurate of reality. Now if the reality being described is by nature farcical, then the detachment is greater. What should have lent to the film has actually created a disservice.

Keka is a good-enough initiation to those who aren’t familiar with the indie school of filmmaking. The characters are familiar and the plot is easy to digest. The film’s non-linear execution has enough twists and turns to keep your eyes glued to the screen. But if you’re a big fan of indie films, you’ll swear you’ve seen films like Keka before, treatment-wise, and even declare that there are far better ones out there.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

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