Monday, August 4, 2014

Dagitab (The Sparks) - Cinemalaya New Breed

Director: Giancarlo Abrahan
With: Eula Valdez, Nonie Buencamino, Martin del Rosario

Synopsis from Cinemalaya: While the marriage of two professors is on the verge of falling apart, the woman named Issey is dragged into a scandal involving a young student. On the other hand, the man Jimmy falls in love with his research – a deity (supernatural being) that appears to him as the ghost of an old flame.

Dagitab's synopsis didn't make me giddy when I first read it. In fact, no one from this year's entry got me excited unlike last year. A couple on the edge of their relationship? There's nothing new about that. But something about its trailer that's mystifying and then I watched the film and I went out of the theater thinking that this is one hell of a movie. Definitely one of my favorites this year.

I consider Dagitab a feel-good movie but before I realized that, it made me feel a soup of emotions that are far from being pleasant. Watching Issey and Jimmy's relationship at first felt like it's sucking the life out of you. Issey feels lifeless, tired and alone while Jimmy feels miserable in finding answers to his research for two decades. They seem hopeless and the audience felt it too. The series of scenes showing their lethargic misery is depressing to watch. But as the film progressed, one would start to wonder if they're in fact miserable or they're just exhausted with their relationship or they're just occupied by different things or all of the above. Giancarlo Abrahan effectively imposed these questions but by the end of the film, the status of their relationship was explained vividly.

Nonie Buencamino (Jimmy) and Eula Valdez (Issey)
via cinemalaya.org
I'm crazy about Eula Valdez and Nonie Buencamino's performances. They're so good in seizing the emotions of their characters and their relationship with each other. They're one of the reasons why the movie provided an emotional journey from the start to end. Eula's cold approach to her character was amazing to watch and I was drawn to her facial reactions whenever she's on screen. As for Nonie Buencamino, there is a consistent calmness in his portrayal of Jimmy but one can still differentiate the changes in emotions of his character throughout the film. There are several long continuous shots of Eula and Nonie's interactions and they're nothing short of authenticity and greatness. I'm referring to the beginning where Issey got drunk while Jimmy was driving and they pondered about their catatonic relationship and how Issey got tired of them being smart and Jimmy insisted his personal desires and relationship inclinations. Martin del Rosario as the supporting character is not bad either. His confrontation with Nonie Buencamino near the end of the film was impressive.

From the first frame to the last, Dagitab inspires you to think endlessly. It is mysterious yet captivating. It takes it time yet it's gripping. It thrives with its emotional dialogue but it blossoms even more when it's quiet. The combination of thought-provoking words of the script and silent scenes is wildly alluring. It has one of the most beautiful scenes I've seen in any Filipino film where Eula Valdez and Martin del Rosario's characters are lying on the shore while the waves and its bubbles caress them. I'm a sucker for quiet scenes that evoke beauty, emotions and calmness and Dagitab is filled with that. It makes the movie even more poetic when the dialogue is already screaming poetry and fantasies. 

In the end, it will make you realize that love has many sides and what works for one relationship doesn't automatically work for others. It's not all about romance or intelligence, it's about maturity and acceptance. This is why I feel like in the end, it's a feel good movie. It made us understand the complexities of marriage and to an extent, life in general. It doesn't hurt that they used Side A's Tuloy Pa Rin Ako that I'm sure made every audience smile after the series of intricacies this film catered. Seriously, the words in this movie is music to my ears and the quiet scenes are both visual and emotional treat. I love Dagitab the same way I love Lost in Translation. I love films because of these qualities.