Movie review: 'Kung paano siya nawala'

November 22, 2018
Rhian Ramos and JM de Guzman
Rhian Ramos and JM de Guzman

BOTH Rhian Ramos and JM de Guzman give excellent touching performances in “Kung Paano Siya Nawala”. JM plays Cecilio, a young man afflicted with face blindness, a real life disorder (scientific name: prosopagnosia) in the brain that causes inability to memorize faces. Since he has difficulty to recognize faces, he is withdrawn, quiet and finds it hard to relate with others, even with colleagues in his own workplace.

Then he meets a free-spirited young woman, Shana (Rhian Ramos), who is challenged by him and tries to make a connection with him even if he has a hard time remembering what she looks like. We see their love story developing casually and they grow on us, we learn to care and root for them.

But they are both very flawed people. JM has serious daddy issues as he got his brain condition after he figured in a car accident when he tried to run after his dad on the day the latter decided to abandon their family. He is having a hard time to find forgiveness in his heart even if his father is now dying.

Shana, in turn, has become addicted to drugs and is alienated from her parents because of this. It’s common knowledge that couples who bring in a lot of unresolved baggage into a relationship have many struggles to face along the way. They also have a harder time maintaining their commitment with each other and this is exactly what happens to JM and Rhian.

What’s nice about the movie is that both actors give very relaxed but properly nuanced, believable performances. Their portrayals don’t look engineered or manufactured. The emotions are not forced and not one-dimensional and you somehow feel uneasy about the raw intimacy with which they are exposed on screen. The problem is that the narrative is quite slow moving and becomes tedious as it crawls along.

In the end, after you’ve invested a lot into the characters played by JM and Rhian, the movie ends suddenly on a cliffhanging note. Most local moviegoers are turned off by this “bitin”, unresolved, inconclusive kind of ending so we’re not surprised that some of those who saw it were asking: “Ano yun?”

But the movie, the directorial debut of Joel Ruiz, is still worth watching as it has above average technical aspects and because of the moving, memorable performances of the leads, especially JM who shows he remains to be one of our finest young drama actors even after two years in rehab. It’s also worth your time for the great support given by Agot Isidro as the “maangas”, love-starved mom of JM who goes from one boyfriend to another, one of them being an actor named Ricky Davao who amusingly plays himself in the movie.

We just feel bad that the movie didn’t do well at the box office. Maybe viewers are now sick and tired and have had enough of romantic films like this that focus mainly on two characters who do the talking most of the time. We should admit that we have a surfeit of such films lately, so enough already. Let’s move on and come up with new and more interesting film fare for our audiences.