I’ll just flex this movie for the second time, but here on WordPress. Some of my contacts on Twitter have finally watched it and have expressed their reactions, so I couldn’t help but make a full blog out of it. Ang ganda, ganda talaga niya.
Spoiler alert: Please don’t read below this line if you haven’t watched the movie yet. ALSO, WATCH IT NOW.
I’ve seen plenty of Filipino films this year, but this one was my favorite so far (obvious naman kasi ito lang yung pinagsipagan kong gawan ng blog). Maine—who played Mara in the film, a woman trying to learn sign language for her niece—exceeded my expectations (and everyone’s) after proving that she is not only a talented comedian known for her role as “Yaya Dub” but also a committed actress. I watched Imagine You and Me before, so I knew her acting prowess greatly improved here. On the other hand, I never thought twice about Carlo Aquino—who played Gali, a deaf person teaching Mara ASL. He was so good. Both of them made me feel things while watching the movie. As in nag-uumapaw na feelings.
I’ll start with what I think was lacking or unnecessary (which I only thought of after thorough analysis). One, I felt that the film can do without Carlo mentioning that he wanted to study abroad and be a scholar; it was overpowered by his eagerness to prove that he could dance amid his disability (but it was still educational, at the same time sad, to hear that our country lacked schools for the Deaf community). Second, as I’ve mentioned above, I wish there were a scene of Mara and her niece finally talking using ASL and Carlo being accepted by Mara’s family. It would have been a grand resolution because, for the first one, it was the reason Mara wanted to learn ASL in the first place; and for the second, there were scenes of Annica (Gali’s ex-fiancee played by Arci Munoz) arguing with her mother who seemed not to accept their relationship. Hindi ko nga lang alam kung saan isisingit itong mga ‘to because the ending was satisfying already.
Satisfying, or more like overwhelming. I couldn’t have it any other way. The resolution to the conflict was there, especially when Carlo got confused with the steps, but Maine was there to assure him. The assurance of love was there.
The scenes, the acting, the cinematography. Recently, I learned that the director used a color grading that could make its audience feel that they’re inside an aquarium. I mean, I was mind-blown. Now that I think of it, fish try to “run away” from changes in pressure, like noise; when you try to snorkel and dive, it is preferable to blend in with them and swim in silence. Remember when Gali ran away from the party?
Also, this was the only movie that made me sob. Ewan ko ba kung namanhid na ako. There were films that made me tear up a bit, but Isa Pa, With Feelings had me curling into my seat, trying to control my wail.
In the early scenes when Mara failed her exam, I mean, that hit me immediately. Tipong, ang aga-aga pa lang, humahagulgol na ako. She was doing good in her work, she had honors in college, but her efforts weren’t enough. Ano pa ba ang kulang? The pressure, the expectations . . . I loved how the scriptwriters carefully thought of those scenes. They let her be sad about it; they let her have her own time to reflect. Yet we saw how she slowly moved on.
Especially when Gali was reminiscing about his memories with Annica? Jeez. Words are not enough to describe how that scene made me feel. Carlo Aquino made me feel Gali’s insecurities. Him sitting and reminiscing and crying was so effective that I am currently weeping while writing this down (hahaha). Arci Munoz, even with her little screen time, should be applauded as well. Effective acting. I was mad at her for choosing to leave, but at the same time, I understand her role’s perspective. The relationship was becoming toxic, and admitting that she could not handle it was the best she could do for the both of them. Para sa mga naramdaman ‘yong lungkot at inggit ni Gali, tara, yakapin at damayan natin ang isa’t isa.
And when Gali and Mara were arguing . . . grabe. Even my seatmate started to weep. This scene alone can get an award. I felt Gali’s fear of risking again, of loving again, of being hurt again. At the same time, I was overwhelmed by what Mara can offer to Gali, especially with the line “Bigyan mo naman ako ng pagkakataon. Gali, mahal kita, e.” Shit talaga, mapapamura na lang ako sa sobrang ganda ng scene na ‘to.
Also, when Gali tried to speak Mara’s name . . . naiyak ako do’n. It was a symbolism of how one can love someone so much. You can notice how Gali was shy to have Mara hear his voice, but he still did, somehow putting his shield down and letting Mara hear what he wouldn’t like others to hear. And when she smiled, the acceptance was there; love was felt.
I also shed a tear (oo na, maraming beses na ako umiyak, haha) when Mara made Christmas lights for Gali. Gaano mo kamahal ang isang tao? You’ll know it when they put effort into things you are having difficulties with. It’s sweet when your partner makes you coffee while you’re working your ass off to reach a deadline, right? Ito pa kayang eksena na ‘to? She was able to practice what she learned in architecture, and that by itself assured me, even without the film mentioning it, that she would be able to figure things out.
Bonus: Also, in this film, I was able to appreciate Unique’s “Sino.” Perfect choice of song.
Isa Pa, With Feelings made me understand the Deaf community more. Often we see “Accept who you are” commercials, not that they are wrong, but we tend to forget that they are also human, capable of asking questions about how life unfair is. Thank you, Dir. Prime Cruz, the scriptwriters of this film, Carlo and Maine, for touching our hearts. Indeed, you made us feel things. Napasabi na lang ako ng “Hay, sobrang sarap magmahal.”