I am referring to the much-ballyhooed movie Ang Babaeng Allergic sa Wifi that Netflix acquired for streaming in certain regions.
Curious why this film got so much publicity, I clicked it on my smartTV’s Netflix app last weekend.
The film has an interesting title, and I was imagining thriller, suspense, or quasi-medical drama. No, the film is nothing of that kind. It’s no more than a teen melodrama about a teenager, Norma (played by ABS-CBN star Sue Ramirez) who manifests symptoms similar to anemia or leukemia but a doctor (played by John Lapus) pronounces her free of those conditions.
So, what is it then? The doctor says something about electromagnetic hypersensitivity (which Wikepedia says is not a recognized medical diagnosis).
And, according to the script and director (Jun Lana is both) Norma has to go to a place where there is no internet signal or connection. And she does, living with her grandma (Boots Anson Roa) while her friends Aries (Jameson Blake) and Angeli (Angellie Saño) visiting her often (like they cut classes to be with Norma, they are supposed to be students in a Metro Manila high school).
Norma’s boyfriend, Leo (Marcus Peterson) never has the time to visit and when he does, he breaks up with Norma who immediately writes him a letter (using the vintage typewriter of her granny) and sends it by snail mail. Leo doesn’t read it, but Aries does who thinks it is wise to pretend that his brother has read the letter and ergo answering back (in the same manner, shades of some Hollywood stuff I’ve seen but can’t recall).
Three-fourths of the film is devoted to that lingering question whether or not Norma and Leo will still get back together as a couple. Meanwhile, Norma’s parents (played by Yayo Aguilaand Kiko Matos as Norma’s stepfather) seem unperturbed by their daughter’s condition they just consigned her to Boots.
Aries despite his being with Norma more often than his brother can’t find courage to tell her she loves her except in a play-phone (two cans strung together where one speaks as the person on the other end listens) and Norma pretended not to have heard.
Norma has taken a leave from school as her body still reacts to electromagnetic waves. In the process, her relationship with Leo is becoming murkier even as her friendship with Aries is getting stronger that will be broken when the latter admits that it’s not his brother who has been answering her letters but him.
Then one night as Aries after unsuccessfully waiting for Norma to talk to her hoping she’d forgive him, she gets a phone call from his mom saying Leo is in a bar drinking his heart out. He picks him up and while Leo pours his heart to his younger brother a truck hits their car.
Aries dies, Norma admits she also loves Aries, and her EHS is suddenly gone.
The film doesn’t explain how Norma’s EHS suddenly disappeared. It would have been more interesting if the screenplay had a parallel storyline that dealt with how to deal with EHS and not simply living in an environment that is electromagnetic free.
But Lana was only interested in dealing with Norma’s descent to melancholia, and Aries unrequited love.
Now, some people call this kind of film the kind “millennials” love to watch. Well, perhaps, as it has nothing beyond the superficial romantic angst of the characters.
* * * *
Bela and JC in MMK
Also, last Saturday, I had the chance to watch Charo Santos’ MMK with Bela Padilla and JC Santos.
It is about the story of Karla and Gio. They were childhood friends, then sweetheart that promised they’d live together till the day they die.
But, along the way Karla finds out that “perfect couple” they’re not, as Gio (after his mom’s death) becomes involved with another woman that rumpled her ideal Disneyland (HK) vacation.
Years later, even if Gio has continued to seek her forgiveness and another chance at being her boyfriend, Kala remains resolute that they can’t be together anymore. Karla’s mom who has had similar experience as her daughter explains to her the meaning of forgiving.
Already moving on, Karla continues to be stalked by Gio and when he is no longer where he used to wait for him, she wonders and at the same time worries about Gio. She gets a phone call from his aunt who tells her that Gio’s dad has passed on.
At the funeral homes, the two talk and mend whatever kinks they have gone through.
In the end they have gotten back into each other’s arms,
Bela and JC’s performance was compelling, giving credence to the real persons the episode’s story had been based upon.
MMK continues to churn out watch-worthy episodes, and this one is among them. I hope they could keep it up.
* * * *
Paramount Channel is up on Sky
There’s a new movie channel on SkyCable. It is called Paramount Channel on Channel 263. It telecasts on HD. It shows mostly movies released by Paramount Pictures and last night while browsing my TV, I saw a snip of the Barbra Streisand starrer On A Clear Day You Can See Forever that was released in 1970.
Vincent Minelli, father of singer/actress Liza Minelli, directed the film and it was based upon the musical play of the same title written by Allan Jay Lerner.
If you’ve heard the song “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever,” that’s from the film and it’s the most popular ditty.
The American Film Institute has included the film in its list of 100 Greatest Musical Films ever.
The late French actor Yves Montand was Barbra’s co-star.