MANILA, Philippines - A film that seemingly intends to tackle the issue of the youth’s proclivity to take drugs, alcohol, and engage and premarital sex turns into a deeper tale of redemption in director Gil M. Portes’ “Ang Tag-Araw ni Twinkle”.
Featuring newcomer Ellen Adarna as Twinkle, the rebellious teenage daughter of retired Army General Payawan, the story begins some 18 years earlier when Philippine soldiers run over an NPA camp. An infant cradled in her mother’s arms survives getting shot even as the woman falls in the crossfire.
As Twinkle continues on her downward spiral, a man appears at their doorstep, causing concern for her parents. After finding out the man’s identity to be Twinkle’s biological father—Ka Ruben the former communist rebel—and his dying wish to speak with his daughter, her adoptive parents agree but immediately thereafter admit Twinkle in drug rehabilitation.
The cancer-stricken Ka Ruben would then play an important role in Twinkle’s rehabilitation program as they form an instant bond that her adoptive parents could only wish for. In him, Twinkle finds a reason to become better, a father who she has very limited time to know and as fate would have it, to care for.
Adarna’s portrayal of Twinkle early on as the addict seemed believable enough to which the 25-year-old admitted after the film’s private screening that her experience experimenting with substance in the past somehow helped in bringing realism to the character. Adarna however, pointed out that she never got to the point of becoming addicted as Twinkle did.
But perhaps it also helped that she was working with very good actors in Cris Villanueva as the retired general and Arnold Reyes as the former communist. The two would-have-been sworn enemies share common ground when it comes to their love for their daughter and it results in a dynamic that is both entertaining and thought-provoking to watch.
Especially impressive is Reyes’ commitment to his character. I asked if Reyes purposely lost weight to show the gradual decline in health of Ka Ruben to which director Portes confirmed that he did.
Acting was never over the top especially in the scene where Twinkle first finds out that she is adopted. The language was easy on the ears and typical of what one would expect in Filipino households nowadays. Written by Enrique Ramos, the film has its funny moments—using the titular character’s name as comedic source more than once—a characteristic trait of the Filipinos’ ability to find humor where there is supposedly none.
“Ang Tag-araw ni Twinkle” (Twinkle’s Summer) is director Portes’ entry to the Sineng Pambansa Film Festival’s All Masters Edition, a showcase of 10 independent films from 10 of the country’s most accomplished, veteran filmmakers which will be shown from September 11-17 in SM cinemas nationwide.
Also in the cast are Rina Reyes, Pinky Amador, Dominic Roco, Marc Aqueza, Annica Dolonius, Benjie Felipe, Jess Evardone and Lester Llansang.