Review by lou.
With such a title like Apocalypse Child, you would begin to expect that this Mario Cornejo picture would be just as interesting as its title suggests. It actually ends up becoming like that, and so much more – including captivating cinematography and a soothing musical score from Armi Millare that you’d find impossible not to cherish. Opening with a narration accompanied by luscious, chilled-out imagery, it tells about the myths of Baler and pulls you right in – never holding back in bringing what’s best to keep you entertained, and to not mind the time that passes. It weaves complex threads to decode, and all of those matter in keeping the astonishing marvels that sit beyond the surface, which then gets exposed for a certain period. What forms that, and gets you thoroughly absorbed is the mystical sense that it brews which blurs fiction and reality – making the entire setting look not like what it seems. There are tales being told by different voices which makes it have a huge role in driving the film’s wheel, but you’re not quite sure whether one should believe them or not. Baler itself is subtly treated as a character, albeit one that is both ruinous, and a healer. By that grace, the film borders on adult-levels of comprehension – understanding its characters’ circumstances/situations very well, and going so far as to showing us the destructive consequences that could be bore from their actions that aren’t well thought out. All of that ultimately brings forth a potent, and pretty lovely combination of drama and humor that would sweep you away, which Cornejo handles with bursting sincerity that involves you in the circle.
Plot-wise, it inherently lacks such as it tends to move away from the usual storytelling that we are all accustomed to. It throws the three-act structure away, and as it stares down at it, it creates a special kind of its own that shows just how real it could get that, what you see isn’t merely just a film. Beautifully, what it lacks dispenses a soul that touches the humanity within, that makes you realize things in life worth cherishing. The past and the present collide with one another, and it teaches lessons to the characters that we see who endure something that they can’t just set loose. Pain is very much present, and could be seen in almost every one of them. The sadness that lies cold in their hearts emanate through their visage, and it registers so clearly as they maneuver in the town that has shaped their image. They are all carried superbly by a never-failing talented cast comprising of applause-worthy actors such as Sid Lucero and RK Bagatsing. Lucero’s inner darkness residing underneath his relaxed surfer look is always welcome while Bagatsing’s little but rather impressive acting is a must-see.
Driven by dialogue that raises so many questions as to why something hurtful comes into play, we are challenged but not quite so, to figure out how it would all be resolved. We clearly see them suffering, and from all of that, we start to see ourselves in them. As they hold onto something, we begin to care. That is why that, as viewers, we are left to find out what lies in the film’s center; a human soul that contains every single one of us in where it stands so firmly. The experience that it leaves you with desires to be revisited, just as the eye-catching beaches of Baler does, and every moment transformed into a memory lingers. Apocalypse Child is the kind of film that would make you feel some type of way – possibly so, the emotionally unbearable feeling of dwelling in the past. See this film, and you’d probably know why living in the present, and leaving the ghosts of the past relieves and comforts any damage done. Mario Cornejo has made something truly remarkable – a masterpiece of sorts whose heated embrace resounds infinitely, like crashing waves enabling us to reflect and contemplate on what really matters.
* Apocalypse Child screenings will be held at Cinematheque Manila on May 4 & 5.