REVIEW: Camp Sawi, a hugot dramedy that sets itself apart for its authenticity

Sam Milby helps the characters of (L-R) Andi Eigenmann, Bela Padilla, Arci Munoz, Yassi Pressman and Kim Molina mend their broken hearts in Camp Sawi.



Camp Sawi is a film of "build and crush," building us at one moment, and crushing us at the next. This is a routine that usually works for sentimental masochists, its disasters rupturing enough to deliver familiar aches that we oddly plunge ourselves into, but it is also a device that arguably works for an even wider scope of audiences.

Andi Eigenmann, Bela Padilla, Yassi Pressman, Kim Molina, and Arci Munoz are the five ladies who are all trying to cope with heartbreak.

ABS-CBN actor Sam Milby runs the fictional Camp Sawi while GMA-7 star Dennis Trillo appears briefly in this movie shot mostly in Bantayan Island in Cebu.

While amusing, this movie produced by Viva Films captures the sheer joy and pain of entering (and exiting) relationships.

Anybody with soft spot for "hugot" lines and "moving on" anthems will easily fall for this movie offering another take on tireless romcom conventions. However, Camp Sawi somehow sets itself apart with a surprising level of authenticity.

The first few moments, alone, will pique the interest of moviegoers.

It starts with Bella Padilla's character, Bridgette, whose boyfriend of ten years just broke up with her. She moves into a fictional island resort—the titular Camp Sawi—where she is set to meet four other heartbroken ladies struggling to move on from their painful romantic pasts.

There is a tangible amount of earnestness that turns the first few moments' wit and humor, priceless.

Written and directed by Irene Villamor, the narrative of Camp Sawi builds up in a satisfying fashion, shredding every character's sob stories into both endearingly funny and heartrending moments that will surely make you chuckle and shed a tear.

Arci Munoz's Gwen, is arguably the most multi-faceted. Having dumped by her boyfriend, who was also her band mate, she shares the same tragedy with the other girls who moved in to camp to mend their wounded hearts. A rock chic, she hides under the pretense of a tough woman, but she is more affectionate during her character's most fragile moments.

She charms with her impeccable comic timing, one Bella Padilla's Bridgette is able to match in an incredibly funny moment they both shared with Sam Milby, who played the Camp Master in the film.

Yassi Pressman plays Jessica, the youngest in the group, who carries the very sentiment of every hopeless romantic millenial. Sultry and radiant, her character is unfortunately deprived by the narrative to get all her agenda across, a flaw that also plagued Andi Eigenmann's Clarisse.

Andi is powerful in one confrontation with Sam Milby. Although she imbued her character some level of maturity, the space provided for her character—which is, I think, the most interesting—feels mostly deficient, although a surprising twist may render such flaw, insignificant.

Kim Molina surprises with Joan, whose boyfriend died just after he proposed to her, and while her airtime feels lacking, she shares a big chunk of the film's overall comic effort.

Taking advantage of its exquisite setting, the film explodes with breathtaking cinematography, sweeping with immaculate shots that appropriately enhance the mood of the proceedings. It is matched by an equally impeccable choice in music, which further magnifies the intent of every moment.

Funny thing about the human heart is, it keeps repairing itself even when it is still in the middle of a devastating emotional disaster.

Even funnier, we keep plunging into the cliffs of romance, armed only with hope that someone will eventually catch us before we hit the ground. This unfortunate cycle does not only happen to us. It happens to movies too, and as a matter of fact, has already become a local cinema staple.

As end-credits begin to roll for Camp Sawi, I was struck by this piece of cinematic beauty created by Direk Irene Villamor and Joyce Bernal, who served as creative consultant.

This hugot dramedy feels right, at least for the most part. And if anything, its simplicity offers something beautiful as did most hugot films in the last few years.

Camp Sawi leaves a lasting impression about how always capable the heart is to love again.

This film is graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board.


Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.

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