WARNING: There may be a few spoilers ahead.
I found out about Apocalypse Child movie through Facebook shares from art-related/connected people or pages but I don't remember from whom or which specifically because I follow too many of them. I did not read any reviews nor even watch the trailer and you know what? I'm thankful that I didn't. Spoiler-free. It took a while for me to write about my thoughts about the film because in all honesty, I don't think I'm a reliable reviewer. I have yet to establish myself as a movie reviewer since I've only written about a few movies because yes, watching IS the easier part. I salute film critiques who get to watch and observe at the same time because whenever I get critical about a movie, it just messes with the whole experience and I don't get to enjoy the film. In the end, I've settled for writing just the first impressions and not go all in depth about it.
Apocalypse Child's story revolves around Ford (Sid Lucero), a surfing instructor in the idyllic town of Baler, Aurora who's famous around town for his ways with women and the story of how he was born. He is known around town as Francis Ford Coppola's son who came to Baler to film Apocalypse Now. At least that's what his mother, Chona (Ana Abad Santos) happily (over)shares with everyone--even with people she just met. Annicka Dolonius plays Fiona, the balik-bayan who only came home to be on her dying grandmother's bedside, RK Bagatsing as Ford's best friend who replaced his late father as the town congressman, Gwen Zamora as Rich's fiancee Serena and Archie Alemania as Ford and Rich's other childhood friend Jordan.
The film had such a talented cast. There were several extras but you'll only ever hear the story and voices of the six main characters.
Ford is living the typical, carefree surfer's life. He's a Peter Pan--essentially a boy in a man's body who lives day by day without any real plans or dreams for the future and partly, he owes that to his equally carefree mother, Chona who had him at such a young age and treats him like a younger brother or a friend. Ana Abad Santos just shined in her role as Chona. I particularly loved the scene where she brought some joint and got high with the "kids".
The other casts were not to be outshined and that's one of the most beautiful things about the film. Simply put, walang tapon sa cast. Each actors' performances are great in their own right.
I loved Annicka since my all-time favorite, Ang Nawawala. It's only the second movie I've ever seen of her and my darlings, she did not disappoint. Annicka has really matured as an actress. Initially, I was hesitant if she can pull it off since it has been years since Ang Nawawala but halfway through the movie she convinced me that she IS Fiona. Fiona and Ford's story is a typical summer fling which starts with a blazing fire and ends in... well you know how it ends. The scene where she snaps and confronts Ford about their break up was especially brilliant for me because the scene could easily be so dramatic especially with Fiona crying in Serena's arms right after but the director showed much restraint and just let the characters be.
Rich is the most level headed of all characters. Yes, even more than Chona. He's so open-minded, he even let his gorgeous fiancee do surfing lessons with Ford the lover boy. Rich also puzzles me the most. He is just so mysterious and chill. How can you not be psychologically disturbed after being abused as a child? But in the end, that's when I found out his flaws and how and which parts of him were broken--literally and figuratively.
Gwen as Serena injected a different kind of sensuality to the story. She's the mature kind of sexy who thinks before she leaps while Fiona is the young and wild kind of sexy.
All the characters are broken for different reasons. You'd think with everyone's backstory there'll be a lot of drama within the film but there isn't. There's not much crying here. It's almost like they would rather get high and bask under the warm sunlight and surf than face their issues. You'll also find the locals such as Ford and Jordan telling Fiona and Serena stories about the town. It will remind you of how people tell stories on Facebook and you'll wonder about the truth and you'll wonder about the things they are not telling because sometimes, the stories we tell are not the truth in its entirety but we tell them anyway as a consolation for the things we are not. That's what made the characters believable. I must also note the music within the film courtesy of Armi Millare of Up Dharma Down giving you the melancholic, beach feels.
I have never been to Baler but the director, Mario Cornejo did a great job of showcasing what the province has to offer. If you are a child of the sea and a surfing fanatic, those alone will make you want to see this movie.
To be honest, coming in without any idea of what the film is all about, I also came out not knowing how I feel about the entire film. I think mainly, it made me think about my own unresolved issues in life because Apocalypse Child is a film that is a lot like life, you may not always understand it no matter how mature you think you are, but you live it anyway. The movie will let you feel a tiny bit of pain--the kind where you don't know where, how and why it started, but you feel it--it's there.
If there are indies about to be shown with a mainstream movie with much promotion, please watch the indie films first because sometimes it only screens for a day or two. You still have time to watch this gem of a movie. For the list of cinemas and more information about the movie, check out Apocalypse Child's Facebook account here.