January 7, 2017
The last animated film that I recall from the MMFF was "RPG Metanoia" back in 2010 and that was very good. For being a live-action animated film, it was no big surprise that "Saving Sally" was met with much excitement and anticipation when it was announced as one of the entries in the current Metro Manila Filmfest.
"Saving Sally" is a labor of love 10 years in the making in terms of filming by director Avid Liongoren, but the concept by writer Charlene Sawit began 5 years earlier in 2000. Funding and technical problems hounded the film until a grant from the French government resuscitated the project. There was also French technical assistance in the sound department, but everything else (including the 2D animation) was all Filipino.
Marky is an amateur comic book writer-artist. He is head over heels in love with the eccentric techie beauty Sally. However, she is in love with a hunky older man, Nick, whom Marky called "The Dick". Pushed into the dreaded friend-zone, Marky continues to pine for Sally's affection by constantly being there for her, especially when she needed to be saved from her physically abusive parents.
Marky sees everyone whom he does not like as monsters, which of course includes Nick, which is drawn as a pea-brained musclebound cyclops. There were lots of hidden pop references in the background, not everything I could catch in one sitting. Batibot and Sandara Park were the most obvious ones. All those still drawings by Marky's hand all looked so cool in their distinctive style. I want to see and read a copy of the "Book of Sad" that Marky gave Sally, and that wonderful pop-up "Book of Happy" given by Sally in return.
The most magical moment of animation for me was in that scene when Sally inadvertently uncovers the wall where Marky posted all his drawings of Sally. The interaction of the individual drawings with the live actors in that scene was just enthralling, beautiful and moving in its sweet and emotionally-rich execution.
Enzo Marcos channels his inner Jesse Eisenberg or Joseph Gordon Levitt in his portrayal of the talented, earnest but painfully shy geek Marky. Rhian Ramos is gorgeous as Sally even if she tried to look butch and nerdy. TJ Trinidad was so slimy and vain as Nick. I wish he did not have to say those bad words though, not cool. I really liked the portrayal of Carme Sanchez as Marky's delightfully supportive mom.
The story is a simple teenage romance. The poster did say it was a "very typical love story." It is really the radical and humorous artwork that sets this film apart from the others of the same genre. The quality of Filipino animation is still in progress, and "Saving Sally" is a step in the right direction. The major characters spoke in English which was refreshing for a Filipino film, with the supporting characters occasionally piping in a line in Filipino to remind us that this is still a Filipino film after all. 7/10.