Monday, June 07, 2010

Noy (2010)

Noy (Dondon Santos, 2010)

The biggest and most fatal problem of Dondon Santos' Noy is that it was never allowed to grow its own set of balls. The film is basically a product of favors: from then-presidential candidate and now-president apparent Noynoy Aquino, his family, and his campaign team, who allowed Santos and his crew the opportunity to shoot the presidential campaign from the inside. As such, it never fully acquires a voice. It relays its message, or whatever sort of motherhood generality it tries to impart, through minuscule peeps and squeaks. It is what it is, and no matter how it musters every conceit in cinema like mixing documentary footage with overt melodrama, it remains to be at most, a limp and flaccid political statement if not an absolutely impotent failure.

Noy (Coco Martin) is an ambitious yet unqualified young man who by submitting a fake diploma and a demo reel he bribed one of his friends to make, got the assignment of documenting the presidential campaign of Aquino. Fueled by the desire to make ends meet for his family, composed of his mother (Cherry Pie Picache), a manicurist who caught the fancy of a transient American, his elder brother (Joem Bascon), whose legs have been rendered useless by a previous accident, and his younger sister, an able student who is unknowingly going blind because of an undetected diabetes, he at first does his job with the mechanicality of an unaffected employee, before events at home start to compound for him to treat his subject with the zeal that it suggestively deserves.

The trials of Noy’s family, from the younger sister’s inevitable blindness to the older brother’s entanglements with drug dealers, are predictable consequences of narrative conceits. They are hardly reflections of the social malaise that is troubling the nation. At most, they are didactic inclusions whose only real value is to elementarily graze upon issues that have existed and have been eternally discussed and debated in other venues and forms of media. As for their dramatic value, it is perfunctory at best, made effective more by the deft performances of the actors than their supposed truthfulness. Noy endeavors to mirror the plight of the poor, showcasing a household tormented by the floods caused by a recent typhoon and the maladies that frequent the downtrodden, yet all it really achieves is to shallowly tell a story made ridiculous by the convoluted twists and turns, which are better suited in an afternoon soap, that are forcibly squeezed into the feature.

The footage of Aquino’s campaign, integrated into the film via Noy’s work-in-progress documentary, is nothing more than ornamental. Shot using murky and jerk digital format as opposed to the rest of the film’s elegant film cinematography, most probably to emulate the immersive quality of Brillante Mendoza’s filmmaking, the footage is at its best, like when Aquino’s discussion on the state of Cebu’s power was serendipitously interrupted by a short brown-out and he bounces back with a witty retort, revelatory of some of Aquino’s endearing traits. Mostly however, the footage is no different from the thousands of footage that were aired in each and every news channel during campaign season: crowds, motorcades, politicians making promises, celebrities endorsing; with only one difference, Martin, disguised as a journalist, is there. There could be something to say about fact, in the form of Aquino’s campaign, and fiction, in the form of the character of Noy interacting with Aquino and his team, interacting seamlessly in the documentary footage, but as it is, everything feels put-on and cosmetic at best.

Thus, Noy is nothing more than a disposable drama that disguises itself with the most current of political flavors to achieve only a semblance of relevance. It tries to walk the talk, juxtaposing a grandly operatic tragedy with the insistent promises of change of Aquino’s presidential campaign, but it only succeeds in talking more talk, throwing around mere suggestions of the grey areas of Aquino’s campaign without actually creating any pertinent discourse about anything. Gone were the days of Lino Brocka’s Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim (Bayan Ko: My Own Country, 1985) or Orapronobis (Fight for Us, 1989), whose political agendas are brandished with both the skill and directness that are required to inflict a measure of change, even if it is just momentarily. In comparison, Noy feels like a buss in the cheek, given only if the cheek’s owner is courteous enough to give a buss back.

(Cross-published on Twitch)


Epoy Deyto said...

It's really sad. Martin is a very fine actor. I don't know if it's just bias, but somebody offered me to watch this for free as a treat, but I sensed that it would just waste his money to treat me to this, then I read your review, and I think I'm partly right. haha. I was never a fan of the Aquinos, and will never be. I still haven't saw this film, but most of my assumption is written on your review.

Oggs Cruz said...

Do try to watch it. There are others who liked it.

I'm really scared for Coco Martin who I think is one of the few young actors who can really act. While I think his personal decision to go mainstream and be touted as a matinee idol or whatever is something that cannot be prevented, it could hurt the one thing that makes him perfect in Brillante's films, his ability to assimilate himself in the milieu. Now that he's a star (and there are articles saying that his newfound fame has made the documentary parts of the films rather difficult), I doubt he can still make films like Tirador or Kinatay.

Anonymous said...

wahaha. i like this review. will share it.

though i haven't seen the film - their very large billboard turned me off because it felt like a campaign material more than a film.

but i'm still curious. would you know if they still have screenings for this?

Oggs Cruz said...

Check clickthecity. Phil Dy's review there is pretty spot-on too.

Anonymous said...

what if this movie has like 10 hour length ala lav diaz film? LOL.

siguro kaya ito ang nasubmit para sa oscar dahil k coco's success lately?