Thursday, January 05, 2017

‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2 #ForeverIsNotEnough’ Can Only Muster Two Memorable Scenes from Its Inspired Concept

After Vince & Kath & James, the second MMFF film I watched was Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2 #ForeverIsNotEnough.

There’s something fresh about the premise of this comedy.  Eugene Domingo plays a fictional version of herself; in this universe, she’s like the biggest Filpino actress currently working in the industry. Her collaborators from the first movie, direk Rainer (Kean Cipriano) and Jocelyn (Cai Cortez), seek her participation for their next project: a solemn arthouse film that serves as a metaphor for Rainer’s own failing marriage.  Domingo accepts, but she starts asking for revisions to be made on the film, starting with changing the leading man from Joel Torre to Jericho Rosales.  As she continues giving “suggestions”, the intended movie essentially transforms into a thoroughly clichéd Pinoy-style rom-com, clashing with Rainer’s artistic vision and personal motivations.
I had chuckles with this movie.  But it’s not as funny as I was hoping it to be.  There’s some cleverness with the gag setup, though the execution isn’t always on the mark as it could be.  Thus, it doesn’t have a sustainable comedic energy.

Its most hilarious sequence involves Domingo wrapped in a towel, in a sauna, explaining the three forms of doing a heartbreaking “hugot” scene.  It’s genuinely riotous, and my stomach should have ached from too much laughing.  But it didn’t, because there wasn’t enough momentum leading to that moment.
Aside from the “hugot” sequence, another memorable moment of this movie is when Rainer finally had enough of Domingo’s “suggestions.”   It was the culmination of the overarching theme of the movie, which is about the objectives of filmmaking – creating a sincere, profound, and thoughtful work of art vs. making a profit and delivering easy, shallow, escapist pleasures.  There are times when movies are a balance of both, but as a general rule, to achieve an aspect of one, an aspect of the other is sacrificed.  Rainer and Domingo’s brief but effective dinner-time debate over this matter is somewhat brilliant.  The sympathy is supposed to be on Rainer, but Domingo does make compelling points and rebuttals, ending her argument emphatically with, “You want to fix your marriage?  You don’t make a movie.  You go to a counselor!” (paraphrased)

But two great, memorable scenes don’t make a great, memorable movie.  It’s failed by unpolished editing that made the narrative flow feel disjointed.  There’s even this scene where Domingo plays the ukulele and sings the song “Forever’s Not Enough”… at full length (I think.  It was long that it felt that way).  Showing the whole thing felt unnecessary; cuts should have been made.  Also, the movie ends abruptly, with no concrete feeling of resolution.
Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2 #ForeverIsNotEnough has some amusing parts – and, again, two great scenes – but it’s really a disappointment as a whole.  The argument can be made that it has an inspired premise and a thought-provoking theme – at least, on paper – but, judged as a film in its entirety, it’s just… not enough.

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