Mario Cornejo and Monster Jimenez’s Apocalypse Child is a contemplative, sexy film one must not be in a hurry to see, rather let the existentialist surf wash over
Blitz review: The route to your demon
Juaniyo Arcellana (The Philippine Star) - October 28, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Mario Cornejo and Monster Jimenez’s Apocalypse Child, Best Picture of the 2015 Quezon City Film Festival, may well become this year’s sleeper. Set in beachside Baler, the narrative centers on a purported love child of Francis Ford Coppola with a local lass the director met during the filming of Apocalypse Now in the mid-1970s.

Sid Lucero plays Ford, surfer dude with a lot of time in his hands to deal with such personal mythologies, but is he really the offspring of the famed director or is this another extrapolation on invented selves, not just his own but also that of his mom Chona played by Ana Abad Santos, his best friend and possible half-brother Rich played by RK Bagatsing, now the district’s congressman, and the women who surround them like romantic chameleons, Annicka Dolonius as Fil-Am drifter Fiona, and Gwen Zamora as Rich’s betrothed Serena. Archie Alemania puts in a good turn, too, as another beach bum with dope and gin to spare.

The pace may be languorous and certain plot points vague and ambivalent, but the long scenic shots of the coastal town allow the viewer to grow into the story, as if filling the blanks, and thereby confront one’s self mythologizing real or imagined, the better to trace the route to your demon. Here apocalypse has many levels; not just Ford’s, but also that of the other characters, who each go through something akin to that of the protagonist in Nick Joaquin’s short story Candido’s Apocalypse, where the road to enlightenment means embracing that which one loathes.

An ambient soundtrack of surf and songs by Armi Millare of Up Dharma Down is built around the bucolic town production designed by the artist Christina Dy, one of the rare times it all comes together, where cast and crew work at the same level and embrace that which they most despise or perhaps secretly desire: The demon not necessarily in the person of Colonel Kurtz up the river, rather a more complex fiction on the back of a surf board. Masarap ang bawal, Giovanni Mamawal.

Love scenes are aplenty and always tasteful, the creative intercutting simulating the sex act itself, Francis Ford copulating to get to the root of his demon. There could be some kind of epiphany waiting or lying in ambush, as if we are on a beach at sunset and espy on the horizon either star, firefly or jellyfish, or could it be ET Brutus?

References may also be made to the Euro cult hit Y tu Mama tambien, but not without issuing a spoiler alert, as well as to Oedipus Rich getting carnal revenge, oops sorry, slip of the Freudian thong.

One smells the nearness of the sea enough to make one dizzy, and so Apocalypse Child is an unusual film in its potential for subtle self disclosure, although with less humor than the initial project of the Cornejo-Jimenez tandem a decade ago, the Cinemalaya entry Bigtime — also from Arkeo Films — about bungling kidnappers.

The angst is never evident because tempered by a laidback, bittersweet vibe, and Cornejo and Jimenez do well in keeping the indie flame burning in this potential monster sleeping at the box-office. Eventually the characters have to go their separate ways and make peace with their respective selves, confront the person one is shorn of all myths and trappings. 

Apocalypse Child is a contemplative, sexy film one must not be in a hurry to see, rather let the existentialist surf wash over. The child is father to the apocalypse, and to paraphrase Dylan Thomas, film becomes an addition to reality.

(Apocalypse Child is now showing in Cinemas.)

APOCALYPSE CHILD
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