August 22, 2019 – Alfonso Sales
Back in 2009, blocks of cocaine suddenly drifted into the shores of the village Mina-Anud. These blocks were initially mistaken for detergent and rat poison until the villagers found out what it truly was. This led to the selling and spread of cocaine throughout the fishing village. Director Kerwin Go brings this incident to the big screen as a black comedy where we get to witness what happened through the perspective of two surfers who get entangled with the drugs.
The film’s ensemble cast is tailor made as they bring the story to life. The main characters are played by Jerald Napoles and Dennis Trillo, with Matteo Guidicelli, Alvin Anson, Mara Lopez, and Lou Veloso. Jerald Napoles (Carlo) and Dennis Trillo (Ding) portray two surfers who just want to taste the good life. The chemistry between the two is smoothly organic. Whenever both are together on screen, it will make you remember the banters and foolish memories you have with your best friend. The contrast between the surfers also makes them blend and fit well together. Carlo is much more laidback and easy going than the cautious Ding who is struggling to prove that he is a worthy husband and father. They both catch each other’s energy and playfully execute the tandem well. It’s like oil and water found a way to mix together.
Jerald shines a tad more as the carefree Carlo, especially with his signature “bruh, bruh.” The way he portrays Carlo is beyond on point. You could see the spark of excitement in Carlo’s eyes the moment he realizes he has a chance to climb up to riches and see the shift of confidence he gets once he feels on top of the world. The way he sells cocaine will make you laugh that you’ll want to see him more on screen.
Despite the great cast, the film falls with an inconsistent tone. From the beginning it’s established that the film is a black comedy, but as it progresses, it seems to struggle to keep the comedy, drama, and heist vibe together. At times it tries too hard to be funny, especially with the sudden freeze frames with a sound effect. There are moments it will work then there are scenes where it looks out of place that can change the current mood.
The funniest bits are actually the subtle and natural moments due to the characters’ behavior and quirks. You wouldn’t feel much of the thrill and risk whenever they sell the drugs as well. It looks all too easy. This can be felt when they travel to Manila from Samar to sell the drugs. It’s as if they took a day or overnight road trip that feels too quick for a long risky travel. The scenes where you could feel the thrill the most are either the short chase scene or when the PDEA agent (played by Alvin Anson who does an amazing and convincing performance as well) confronts Ding.
There were times when the shots pieced together simply looked like a montage of establishing shots as well. It’s as if you are watching a tourism video or someone made a short documentary of their stay there. The color had the overused orange and teal look that we usually see. The blue was distracting since it was affecting the shadows too much. During the close up scenes, you could clearly see that the hair of the characters had a blue tint already.
With the setbacks that it has, Mina-Anud is still able to clearly deliver its story and message. We are told a story that some of us have forgotten (or haven’t even heard of). Films like this make us aware of the events going on in our country, if not on going then what has happened before. It also shows the dangerous consequences of giving in to dealing with drugs.
The perspective from the surfers is effective here since we see how it affects their everyday lives. Everyday people just want to live, that at times can get desperate. We can relate to these protagonists because they too have dreams and they struggle to get there. Because of this, we get to put ourselves in their shoes. The question we have to ask ourselves though is “what would we do in their situation?”
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