MANILA, Philippines At the center of Alimuom ng Kahapon is the romance between two men. Orbiting around it are various details, a lot of it disposable save for the fact that they attempt to pad what essentially is a pointless love story with some sheen of social and political relevance.
The result is a film that awkwardly resembles an unforgiving black hole, one that unceremoniously sucks whatever joy you have in you with its characters’ endless whining and weeping, and a story that doesn’t really go anywhere. It is a film that aspires to tackle too many things but only succeeds in achieving a level of moroseness that is both unforgiving and unforgivable.
Falling in and out of love
Emman (Angelo Ilagan) is a student activist. He’s met Nathan (DM Sevilla) before at a gay bar where he usually spends his nights, enjoying the lifestyle that he has kept hidden from his activist friends. However, it is only when he is rescued by Nathan from a violently dispersed rally that they really get to know each other and eventually fall in love.
Complications arise. Nathan turns out to be the son of the executive assistant (Mailes Kanapi) of a congressman who is involved in some sort of fund scam Emman’s group has been protesting against. Emman, on the other hand, has been hiding another relationship he has from Nathan. The relationship predictably goes sour, forcing the two to reassess the level of commitment they have for each other.
The romance is told through flashbacks that are framed from the two ex-lovers’ reunion in Nathan’s house. Writer and director Rosswil Hilario constructs the reunion to be supposedly charged with emotions akin to regret and longing.
The conversation between Nathan and Emman that paves the way for the curated episodes of their failed love affair is however intolerably mawkish and ridiculous, turning the framing device that supposedly cues whatever emotion the audience should be feeling into a torturous, melodramatic scene that is woefully empty.
Compounding the film’s jarring confusion with its identity are its many technical deficiencies. Alimuom ng Kahapon is consistently embattled by sound glitches, made glaringly apparent by the fact that the film is reliant on impassioned dramatics and endless sobbing. The aural inconsistencies often make a lot of the film’s lengthy dialogue-driven scenes unbearable.
Its musical score is much too obvious and imposing. Its dramatic scenes are overpowered by either a loopy melody or a corny song. Its many flaccid sensual scenes, on the other hand, are accompanied by the most generic and grating of electronic beats.
The film is riddled with a chronic lack of subtlety and sophistication. This is made apparent by the manner the film is edited, which gives utmost priority to overbearing moments of overt emotion rather than quiet scenes that reflect whatever truth about relationships the film wishes it could expose.
Interestingly, the film sometimes has the look of a classic picture, with its crisp night-time shots that evoke a certain aspect of Manila that is oddly alluring. Sadly, it never really sustains that atmosphere, often retreating towards an aesthetic that is more suited for television.
Rain of tears
Alimuom ng Kahapon is frustrating in the way it wastes so many opportunities to be bigger than what it is. It imagines itself to be this grand romance between two lovers separated by class and societal motivations but only ends up as a forgettable piece of low-rent erotica.
After its excessive offer of never-ending rain of tears and obtrusive banter, there isn’t really anything to take from Hilario’s film. If it already undeniably shallow in its exploration of student activism within fictionalized issues that are currently relevant, it is even shallower as a romance. – Rappler.com