After fanning over his Cinemalaya debut movie Dagitab, I was quite excited to sit through Giancarlo Abrahan’s third full length feature. Following his 2017 entry Paki, Abrahan returns this year to the Cinema One Originals Film Festival 2019 with Sila Sila (The Same People). The festival's Best Film and Best Screenplay awardee tells the story of Gab (Gio Gahol) and Jared (Topper Fabregas) and their rollercoaster of a relationship with each other and the friends they keep. Though all his three films to date are incomparable to each other, this could actually be my favourite among them all.
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The film opens cold with a car sex scene between Gab and Jared which escalates quickly to establish the film’s premise. This opening scene certainly sets the tone for the whole film which showcases common relationship occurrences, weaving them into such an engaging tapestry of moments. +3
On his first lead role, Gio Gahol carries the film quite well as the escapist and emotionally complicated Gab. He hits the right mark in each and every scene creating such a beautifully flawed character you will grow to love and sometimes hate for his stupid decisions, mainly for looking for love and belongingness in the wrong places and people. But don’t we all have that sometimes? That’s what makes Gab so, so relatable. +4
Jared, played by Best Supporting Actor Topper Fabregas, counters the more confrontational mirror image of Gab when it comes to dealing with altercations. Fabregas personifies such an adorable Jared which would make you want to forgive him off the bat making Gab seem like an asshole. Topper’s onscreen chemistry with Gio is so believable as best friends turned lovers turned exes, that you want to champion their love story. One of my favorite lines in the film come from Jared, "You’re one of my closest friends. Sometimes I’m thankful for that. Sometimes I just hate you." +3
The greatest factor in my opinion on why this film works so well is the inherently nuanced performance of its ensemble. Each character portrayal feels lived-in and if you’re lucky enough to know some of them in real life, you might realize that they could just be not acting at all. Hence, the spontaneous flow of dialogue in each scene, making it such a delight to watch on screen. This makes all the #realtalk and #friendtervention in the film feel so real. A special shoutout goes to fellow filmmaker Dwein Baltazar in an introductory role in the film as Nicole, one of Gab and Jared’s quirky posse and the group’s voice of reason. +5
Abrahan, in this film, demonstrates his mastery of mise en scene, sometimes using long one-shot takes and static frames that are sustainedly engaging. He does this so craftily and subtlely, with the careful execution of the script’s witty banter and his actors’ natural movement within the scene along with their impeccably organic performances. +4
This material is not about the grandeur of a convoluted relationship plot or about a shocking twist or payback at the end. It revels in its simplicity and gives us a glimpse into the slice of life of the mundane complications of commitment and how friendship and genuine selfless concern is left at the end of the day. +3
Sila-Sila may altogether be simple story-wise, but it is just so well crafted in all aspects that it makes for really good cinema. With 22 points in total, there is so much to love about this film and so far is my personal favourite among the bunch!
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Photos courtesy of Sila-Sila's Facebook page