#Y Movie Review
Upon arriving inside the theater, I wade in through a dark room full of people. And silence.
No reaction was heard while viewing #Y, Gino Santos’ second entry for the Cinemalaya Film Festival – a local Sundance which has been going strong for a decade (Heh…. #Y… on Cinemalaya X…. All right, I should
stop now….). I almost felt the same as the other spectators.
But before all of that, let’s go over the basics. #Y (the title insists on including the hashtag) is supposedly a story about the eponymous Generation Y. “This is us,” declares the film’s poster. But to be specific, this is a story of the small sector of Generation Y – namely, the rich kids. Scratch that. The new rich kids. Yes, those brats whom take drunken joyrides after a night’s worth of clubbing. Yes, those brats whom complain about the crowded parking in the local mall as if it means the world to them. Yes, thosebrats, in all their coñotic might, whom think that the whole world revolve around them. This is their story. And while the rest of this generation, from whatever social divides they may be, is just as narcissistic as our film’s protagonists, this is really just about the wealthy side of “Y”. Call it unfair,right?
We follow Miles (Elmo Magalona), a guy from the Metro South, as he coasts through life with his three equally self-‐absorbed buddies through the ways of partying and substance abuse. In the midst of it all, he copes with his own suicidal tendencies. A Brett Easton Ellis vibe permeates the whole movie. It seems that Direk Gino and his collaborator, screenwriter Jeff Stelton, are big fans of the man. Think Less Than Zero or The Informers mixed in with some Project X. That will give you an idea.
Stelton writes a decent caricature of the people both he and his helmsman know (and believe me, people that I know too), down to the interactions and habits. And his ear for words is just about right. For instance, when he wrote Ping’s (Kit Thompson) monologue on masturbation, which he transformed into
a sermon about opposite sexes. Santos, on the other hand, gets too eager when granted the camera. He
ends up blatant. In that same scene, we are subjected to not just one frame of Thompson wanging it
out in the shower, but three frames! As if he can’t take the hint that one is already too much. In another
scene, we are forced to squirm as we close in on a wrist being slashed. What Santos should have done was to cut away to a close up on the face instead, before the deed could be seen. The expression made would still evoke powerful feelings from the audience, without the need for torture porn.
Carlo Mendoza has once again done a great job with this picture. He captures the hedonism and nihilism thrown around by Santos and Stelton with his penchant for chiaroscuros and white outlines.
As for the main cast, there’s hardly anyone to like in this movie. Magalona’s Miles is a blank sheet of
paper. Coleen Garcia proved that she could be a scene-‐stealer. But just because she is, that doesn’t
mean she is outright likable. She hogs the scene with an obnoxiousness that anybody would love to sock in
the nose. Sophie Albert as the dedicated virgin is understandable, but not one to sympathize with. Thompson is such a jerk ass, there’s no reason why Miles and Company should even be friends with him. It
gets awkward when he and his girl, the dedicated virgin, had just a bitter scene before one of the gang’s usual rooftop hangouts. Slater Young as Miles’ older brother is just downright annoying.
The saving grace of the main cast is Chynna Ortalezza, who plays, with such ease, the woman at the crisis line Miles talks to. She only appears in three scenes. Yet those three scenes (again, in regards to Stelton) are the best parts of the movie. They were powerful. Here is a woman whose job is to make people feel better about their lives, even when tragedy strikes her own. Her words to Miles, encouraging him not to give his life up when others wish to retain heirs, are so heartwarmingly true, that when Miles decides to commit suicide anyway, it’s a major buzz kill. In George Romero’s Martin, the title character meets his fate by the stake. When he died (against his own will), we felt sorry for Martin, as he was learning to move on from his internal conflict. But here, Miles inflicts his own death, after we thought that he moved on. More so, he didn’t give much explanation on why he planned to kill himself, save for flimsy reasons. In effect, Miles is not a tragic hero. He is no more than just a stupid, spoiled kid.
It has been months since I’ve heard of its troubled production. The film’s major theme of suicide was so much a problem, affecting the support from Smart Telecoms, the company endorsed by Magalona. The same plot elements were the reason why the crew had a difficult time shooting in the College of Saint Benilde, simply because it might give them a bad rep. So on the way to the theater, I was wondering how it all that would be resolved. It seemed Ol’ Gino had his way. But was his insistence necessary? (That green screen at the last reel, though.)
Long story short, #Y is the kind of picture that’s neither bad nor great in my book. It’s just a “K” movie.