Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review of SHIFT: Charming Chemistry

November 12, 2013

There have been so many Filipino films that I have seen this year thanks to the several film festivals that have been held at various malls.  First there was the Cinemalaya, then there was Cine Filipino, then the Directors Series.  This week is the turn of Cinema One Originals.  This film fest of independent films by neophyte filmmakers are being shown from November 11-19, 2013 at the Trinoma, Robinsons Galleria and Glorietta 3.

The film I was able to catch this afternoon was entitled SHIFT.  I had no idea whatsoever what this film was all about, nor do I know who the director or the stars were.  It turned out to be a simple but hip little project which many young people would probably identify with.

"Shift" is set in the ubiquitous world of call centers and its employees.  Estela is a quirky, carefree young lady with red hair.  Trevor is a tall, dark, handsome young guy, and by the way, gay.  Outside work, Estela has a persistent suitor Kevin, while Trevor had an Australian boyfriend.  But at work, the two connect very well with each other with their many things in common.  Question is, will this friendship lead to a real though unconventional love affair?

Estela is played by Yeng Constantino, a rock singer whom I did not know had it in her to be a charming and capable actress.  Trevor is played by Felix Roco, who was also very good in essaying his challenging gay role.  The two had very good chemistry with each other, and this palpable tension between them carried the film through the length of the film.  The delightful supporting role of Alex Medina as Kevin also lent additional texture to the story.

The language used in the film was so young and hip, perfect to convey a story so young and hip. I confess I would not have caught it all without the help of those very well-made subtitles!  I definitely loved the technique where their chat sessions and texting threads were shown onscreen, all complete with subtitles as well.  I liked the cool locations and bohemian set pieces which give this film a bright and sassy color all its own.  The inside look inside the cubicles of call center agents was also very interesting.

Towards the end though, the momentum of the film slows down when the director did not seem to know how the film should end properly.  There was a heartfelt song number by Yeng which while beautifully rendered, unfortunately may bog down the storytelling.  But this was a minor quibble in the greater scheme of things.  The soundtrack in general was outstanding.

The main drawback, I would think, is that the story is so simple that it could have been an episode of a TV drama anthology.  Fortunately, Director Siege Ledesma injects enough personality to lift it up to deserve to be a feature film.  This is a pleasant yet lightweight endeavor, but not bad at all.  7/10.

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