REVIEW: Xian Lim, Coleen Garcia and Nathalie Hart sizzle in provocative thriller Sin Island

Sin Island is graded B by the Cinema Evaluation Board and is rated R-16 by the MTRCB.


Star Cinema’s Valentine's Day explosive offering, Sin Island, is so damn easy on the eyes, you can watch it twice.

Once for the steam and the second for the substance. But for now, the theater has gotten so hot that my brain might not be functioning properly.

Anyway, after the mental fog has cleared and I’ve caught my breath, I can finally sit down and reflect on how masterfully director Gino Santos and writer Keiko Aquino captured the power dynamics in millennial marriages and the circumstances that drive couples to commit infidelity.

David (Xian Lim), a high-profile fashion and wedding photographer, and Kanika (Coleen Garcia), a flight attendant, have everything they need: thriving careers, supportive families, and a young marriage steeped in passion.

Their blissful union is disturbed when David's career suddenly tanked, plunging him into a deep depression that none of Kanika's best efforts can pull him out of.

Exhausted with trying, Kanika finds herself drawn to another man (TJ Trinidad), a pilot who is not only self-assured but also newly-divorced.

Upon discovering the brewing affair, a heated confrontation ensues between David and Kanika, exposing the cracks in their relationship in the process.

As the rift between them widens, David flees to an island resort where his willpower is tested by Tasha (Nathalie Hart), a high-powered seductress in her own right who shows them the even darker side of love.


THE GOOD.

In terms of visuals, Sin Island’s fire comes mainly from the gorgeous photography and the stellar casting.

Direk Gino understands intimacy beyond sex as can be gleaned by the suggestive shots and poetic devices that move the narrative forward to the point that dialogue becomes unnecessary to convey motivation and inner turmoil. 

When imagery is not moving the story forward, it is simply bringing the beautiful out of the ordinary.

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I agreed to the advance screening because of Xian Lim because, why not? He’s taken on dramatic and pretty boy roles before and even had intimate scenes in a prime-time soap. So why not see if he can take the sexy image further? He was faint-worthy indeed.

David starts off as a cute, slightly annoying young man searching for validation from his wife who is getting tired of his passivity. He transforms dramatically with the crazy, dangerous Tasha who restores his self confidence and tries to lure him into dangerous territory. Xian mastered the constant struggle his character was thrust into, alternating between vulnerability and aggression with authenticity.

Coleen Garcia is probably the leading lady to match the most dashing of leading men. She too has taken on sexy roles before but pushes the envelope in Sin Island. Petite and delicate but unafraid to revel in her sensuality, Coleen created a Kanika that possesses subtlety and intensity with equal grace.

Nathalie Hart herself is a vision, sultry and seductive, clearly a dangerous woman with ulterior motives. She has a tendency to be a scene stealer, especially when she declares, "I only give my p*uta self to the man I love."

Her character, Tasha, starts off as the comic relief of the narrative and the secondary source of conflict but transforms greatly in the second half of the film to shock moviegoers with the sudden turn of events.


THE BAD.

If there is something amiss in the film, it had to be a deficiency in Tasha’s back story. Some attempt was made to explain her nature through her odd relationship with her husband Francis (Bernard Palanca) and the spate of lawsuits filed against her for violent behavior but it was not sufficient to extend the contribution of her character to the narrative.

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Tasha’s fresh descent into madness also felt harried— in an effort perhaps to move the plot forward—that inconsistencies and questions arise in the second half of the film. These things, however, can be easily overlooked because at this point, the audience is already too emotionally invested in the plot.


THE WORTHY.

Sin Island is thrilling and painful to watch at the same time all because the struggles are relatable.

Very few films about infidelity deal with the internal struggle between couples as the focus is usually placed on vilifying the mistress to pave the way for an explosive confrontation between the wife and the other woman.

When a relationship begins to crumble, couples increasingly find themselves trying to remember why they were drawn to each other in the first place and thinking if the passion that still binds them is worth holding on to.

Sin Island is a thought-provoking film that gives an insight into what motivates men and women in committed relationships. That women, however successful they may become, will always be drawn to confidence and willpower in a man. And men are kept going by the assurances of the women by their side.

But how strong must a woman be to hold on to her commitments as she carries a broken man on her back? And how strong must a man be to be worthy of his woman’s sacrifices?

And here is where Sin Island is a tour de force. A new barometer by which Philippine erotica may be benchmarked in the years to come.

This movie is graded B by the Cinema Evaluation Board and has been given an R-16 rating by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) with no scenes deleted.

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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