Tuesday, August 14, 2018

PPP 2018: Review of ANG BABAENG ALLERGIC SA WIFI: Internet-less Interactions

August 13, 2018




Nerdy introvert and social media hermit Aries (Jameson Blake) is smitten with the quirky wide-eyed beauty of Norma (Sue Ramirez) from the first time he saw her on campus. He never got the guts to tell her what he felt for her, and just admired her from a distance. Aries was shocked to learn that Norma already had a boyfriend -- a popular basketball jock and (unfortunately) his very own older brother, Leo (Markus Paterson).

One day, Norma had a nosebleed and felt very ill. All the tests at the hospital had normal results. When it seemed that she was experiencing a hypersensitivity to electromagnetic radiation from WiFi signals, Norma had to retreat to her grandmother's house six hours away from the city to escape her curse. This forced leave away from online technology would make Norma realize who really loved her more. 

Sue Ramirez is a winsome young actress with an unconventional good looks, Her most remarkable facial features are her big round soulful eyes, which set her apart from her contemporaries. Why Aries would fall head over heels in love at first sight with Norma is completely plausible because she looked like Sue. Aside from her allergy to WiFi, Norma dealt with big issues like her Mom's second family, her best friend Margaux's disloyalty, and her confusing relationship with the two Miller brothers. Ramirez effectively navigated us through all those complicated emotions along with her.

Fil-American Jameson Blake started his showbiz career on "Pinoy Big Brother" in 2015, and later became one of the Hashtags on "Showtime." His big screen debut on "2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten" (2016) was immediately rewarded with a Best Supporting Actor award at the CinemaOne Originals festival that year. Blake played the shy Aries with much restraint, but he knew how to deliver thrills in those romantic scenes with Ramirez (and the girls in the audience scream their approval). The two dimples on his face have a life of their own. 

Fil-British Markus Paterson is younger than Jameson Blake in real life, but here Paterson is playing Blake's older brother. This is his first big screen appearance since he joined (and eventually lost) Pinoy Boy Band Superstar in 2017. He was still a little tentative and tended to look stiff in his romantic scenes with Ramirez. His bro scenes with Blake came off as more natural, capped by one major dramatic teary scene in a car towards the end which Paterson pulled off creditably. 

Angeli Nicole Sanoy (credited here as Angellie Sano) stole her scenes as Aries's perky, feisty, small-but-terrible best friend Macha. This diminutive actress is a powerhouse ball of energy and she got to deliver all the funniest lines in the film. Many times she was even the sensible voice of reason. I do not know much about this actress, but based on her performance in this film and the audience's positive reaction to her scenes, she looks like she has a promising career ahead of her. 

The senior actors stay mainly in the background here. Boots Anson Roa played Norma's kind grandmother, who kept her colorfully bohemian house stocked with relics of the past (typewriter, tape recorder, gramophone, etc... all in perfect working condition). Yayo Aguila played Norma's supportive mother, with a subdued Kiko Matos as her second husband Joey. Lee O'Brian and Candy Pangilinan played Aries and Leo's parents. One interesting detail I noticed in the credits was that Iza Calzado provided the voice of the GPS navigation.

It was writer-director Jun Robles Lana bittersweet exploration of this technological phenomenon that distinguished this film from other rom-coms. This had a lighter, more youthful tone his other films I had seen before, but the incisive social commentary Lana is known for remains clear. Some situations may come across as corny or even cliche, but the beautiful cinematography and those Keiko Necesario's songs in the soundtrack give this one a different vibrance. 

This movie delivers an important message about our interpersonal relationships and how the internet and social media had eroded on them. At this point in time, you really have to make a conscious (and practically Herculean) effort to disconnect yourself from the virtual world in order to connect yourself to the real world. This film will make you reflect upon how to nurture the relationships that you value most -- the old-fashioned, low-tech way. Life need not be empty without WiFi. 7/10. 


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