Thursday, May 06, 2004

I Will Survive!
Maricel Soriano, Eric Quizon, Dina Bonnevie, Judy Ann Santos
Directed by: Joel Lamangan
Regal Films

Let me cut to the chase on this one: Lamangan’s I Will Survive! is a great comedy that's badly made. While I recommend that you watch it if you want a good laugh, it’d be best that you ignore its glitches.

Our four protagonists, played by Soriano, Quizon, Bonnevie and Santos, are close friends who are supposed to be members of a chorale group. Each of them have their own issues which revolve around the themes of sexuality and family relationships.

Like I said, the film offers enough punchlines as well as some surprises to keep the audience going, and performances are okay overall. Despite another battalion cast, Lamangan was able to keep major focus on the leads. The inclusion of the “classic Regal” song-and-dance numbers actually works. But it suffers in a number of aspects.

The first aspect is technical. The editing is haphazard in places and the sound is bad, especially in the musical segments. It felt like this film was rushed during post-prod. Our lead stars are not known for their vocal prowess, them being part of a chorale group, so there would have been greater credibility if vocal stand-ins were used in lieu of the actors’ actual voices.

Blocking is the second aspect, or how actors are positioned during the course of a scene. A number of our directors can’t seem to make blocking look natural – the result is too stagey and forced. I mean, you’re all at the sala sharing a private moment. . . why do you guys move around all the time? It works for theater, not for film.

Then there are two of the many sins of Philippine film comedy: stalling the punchline when the audience obviously knows what it already is, and overextending the punchline for all it’s worth even if it has lost it. The script could’ve been tweaked a bit to rely more on the visual instead of the verbal.

While I’m not too hot about Lamangan’s film work, I’ll let I Will Survive! through. It’s pretty glitchy, yes, but it’s also funny, witty, and clever. If a bit more care (and budget) had been taken in putting it together, I’m sure it’ll get my two thumbs up, along with my big toes.

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