It is hard not to be charmed by Ang Nawawala. It may tackle serious themes, but the treatment of this coming-of-age story is so sweet you can't help but smile.
Directed by Marie Jamora, Ang Nawawala tells the story of a young man named Gibson (Dominic Roco), who returns to the Philippines three years after traveling around the world. All seems to be well except that Gibson refuses to speak, a decision he made after witnessing a tragedy in his childhood.
Later on, Gibson meets Enid (Annicka Dolonius), an enchanting woman who shares his tastes in music. Gibson falls in love, but is love really what he needs?
What makes Ang Nawawala such a crowd-pleaser is the perfect mix of all its details. And what holds these together is good music.
Music is the centerpiece of Ang Nawawala. Gibson and Enid communicate through music, and all of their dates happen where live bands are playing.
This element is not unexpected for director Jamora, who has been megging music videos for a decade before making this full-length movie. Jamora's musical knowledge pervades the film; many obscure OPM records and unsigned acts are present, and should make for an outstanding soundtrack.
The cast of Ang Nawawala should also be commended. Dominic Roco gives a strong performance despite the limitation of not being made to talk. Annicka Dolonius complements Dominic's performance by providing whatever maturity Gibson lacks.
The other members of the cast also deliver convincing performances, particularly Dawn Zulueta, who plays Gibson's uptight mother. Dawn subtly shows pain behind her tough demeanor.
Also commendable is the set design, which adds to the film's lyrical tone. Aside from auditory treats provided by OPM artists, moviegoers can also look forward to the beautiful sets that provide a visual feast.
One negative thing that can be said about this movie is that there are a lot of scenes where characters take drugs leisurely, and in any form. And even though these scenes are essential and should not be cut, the have the potential to hurt the movie’s chances of commercial distribution. The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board prohibits scenes where drugs are used for pleasure, and without consequences.
In sum, MTRCB’s limits may bar Ang Nawawala from the commercial and mainstream success that it deserves after Cinemalaya 2012.
Ang Nawawala is one of the 10 entries competing in the New Breed category of the 8th edition of Cinemalaya. It will be screened at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Greenbelt 3 and Trinoma until July 29, 2012.
(CLICK HERE to read all about this year’s competing entries)
(CLICK HERE to view screening schedules)