‘ANG BABAE SA SEPTIC TANK 2’

A funny take on local movies’ not-so-funny state

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Eugene Domingo and Jericho Rosales

Eugene Domingo and Jericho Rosales

Cast: Eugene Domingo,
Joel Torre, Jericho Rosales,
Kean Cipriano, Cai Cortez,
Khalil Ramos, Gui Adorno and Hannah Ledesma
Director: Marlon Rivera
Writer: Chris Martinez
Producers: Martinez-Rivera and Quantum
Films in association with Tuko
Film Productions, Butchi Boy
Films and JM Productions

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It could be argued that romantic comedy, “or rom-com,” is the easiest film genre to sell in the box office, most especially from the late ‘90s until the mid-2000s when the big screen was all about Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz, finding, losing and reuniting with love.

Hollywood has pronounced the death of rom-com sometime ago but in the Philippines, rom-com is still the main milieu in attracting silver screen patronage.

It is then not surprising that Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough—a follow up on one of the first independent films that found success in mainstream box office, Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank—deconstructs, and makes fun of, the making of a romantic comedy film.

Like its predecessor, the follow-up movie takes the audience to the process of filmmaking through actress Eugene Domingo who plays herself, Kean Cipriano who plays the director Rainier and former production assistant-turned-line producer Jocelyn, as portrayed by Cai Cortez.

While the first one focused on fresh filmmaking graduates creating Walang-Wala, an indie film on impoverished people that they feel would win them international accolades, Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2 sees the characters playing a tug of movie genre war between romance and romantic comedy.

The movie opens with Rainier’s solid ideas on his romantic movie The Itinerary—a heartbreaking anatomy of a crumbling marriage as told through a couple’s trip to Baguio, their former honeymoon location—from the setting, the lead star, the mood up until the heartbreaking confrontations. He has everything down to a tee and hoping his muse, Domingo, would agree to collaborate with him and his team once more.

Domingo sure did, only to be revealed that she’s not as eager to make another independent film. Problems slowly arise when Domingo nonchalantly throws ideas she felt would help sell the movie.

As expected, Domingo delivers both in scenes that ask her to be hysterical and subtle in the next; it would not be surprising if she wins Best Actress. Cipriano, who gains more screening time and whose character was fleshed out, is a revelation. He gives the face of an adamant artist who wouldn’t bend to a know-it-all actress.

It’s a comedy for sure, but after letting out hearty laughs—thanks to the sharp script, relatable lines and the cast members’ perfect timing—a moviegoer would most probably weigh the real deal in the movie industry.

The gem of the movie lies in its climax, where Domingo and Cipriano’s character engage in a heated argument.

Is the Filipino moviegoing public really that shallow, as Rainier suggests? Are moviegoers all escapists? Are they, in reality, willing to spend a handsome amount to see, as Domingo puts it, “suffering magnified onscreen?” Or is it pretense all around?

Sure, it’s easy to hate Domingo’s character for exposing rom-com clichés—handsome leading man, gay best friend and the ultimate chase—that Filipinos easily bite into, and to sympathize with Cipriano whose artistic process is being bulldozed by Domingo, but after hearing the former’s arguments, looking at rom-coms as a vehicle to provide relief doesn’t seem so disturbing anymore.

More than taking a jab at romantic comedy and its formulaic elements, Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2 has become an allegory to the long-running debate in the industry, most recently highlighted with this year’s MMFF selection of official entries.

To sum it up, moviegoers go in to watch Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2 with expectation to laugh hard—which they will surely do—but come out getting more than their money’s worth.

Christina Alpad

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