Ang Nawawala Movie Review

As I’m writing this, I’m still overwhelmed with waves of heightened emotion from catching the Sunday Night Last Full Show (LFS) screening of the hit Cinemalaya entry, Ang Nawawala (What Isn’t There) at SM Megamall. I’m still making sense of these emotions so bear with me as this may turn out to be quite a departure from my usual movie reviews.


Gibs (Dominic Roco) and Enid (Annicka Dolonius) share a song or two

From the official synopsis:

“Gibson Bonifacio stopped speaking when he was a child. Now twenty years old, he returns home to Manila from his studies abroad, his first visit in three years. He finds his family trying to keep it together, his mother still hurting from a tragic loss in the past. Against the backdrop of the vibrant local music scene, his childhood best friend tries to reconnect with him, while he unexpectedly finds a chance at a first, real romantic relationship. Amidst the holidays, Gibson reconsiders and redefines his relationships with his family, his friends, and with himself.”


What separates this film from the rest of the local productions is the sheer amount of honesty in every scene. There’s a level of cred that is hard to refute because the language, the movements and even the settings seem perfectly plausible. Aside from that, Director-Writer Marie Jamora and co-Writer Ramon De Veyra knew exactly who they were making this film for and they weren’t being elitist about it, they were just being very, very honest with the story.  This film is for you and me. It’s for people who have internet access 24/7, who can afford a Starbucks or two without burning a hole in their pockets; it’s for people who grew up with cable TV or at least access to Hollywood films via their daddies’ Betamax, VHS or (oh gawd) Laser-Discs; it’s for people who know what a DSLR is, has the latest smartphone and are slaves to the internet; but most of all, it’s for people who are free to dream, to consume art on a daily basis whether it be visual or aural.

These are the kids of our generation (or those belonging to the 20 something age range) who would, with a passion, commit themselves to learning about and supporting Indie (short for Independently produced) performers.  In fact, I would dare say that this movie is a love letter to everything Indie.


Sisig, Beer and Music at Shift

Aside from superb story-telling and beautiful cinematography, the performances of brothers Gibs (Dominic Roco), Jaime (Felix Roco) and love-interest Enid (Annicka Dolonius) stand out magnificently. That’s not to say that the supporting cast led by Boboy Garrovillo and Ms. Dawn Zulueta – who plays mom and dad to siblings Jenny Jamora and Sabrina Man – are slouching off. On the contrary, it’s the grounded performances of these supporting actors and actresses that help propel the main characters as they should. Ms. Dawn Zulueta herself is very generous in a scene wherein she shines when she speaks her lines then throws the focus back to whoever needs it.

But after the credits roll and the lights turn back on, it is Gib’s sheepish look, those emotion-filled eyes and his physicality that imprints itself in our heads. Ironically, Dominic Roco was able to convey more story and emotional depth in silence compared to when he speaks. Probably because his inaudible voice is whatever we want it to be in the context of the story and it pulls us deeper into his psyche.

In fact there was a  part in the 3rd Act where Gibs and Jaime were sharing a joint in a heart-wrenching farewell scene. Normally, this would have been marred by cheesy lines of apologies and forgiveness, but the director did something I did not expect: She let them take the joint, pass it around and have a voiceless conversation. And it ends up being beautifully painful and real.


Real life twins Dominic & Felix Roco as on-screen twin brothers Gibs & Jaime

To music lovers, Ang Nawawala boasts of a wonderful collection of Indie rock artists ranging from Sandwich to Pedicab, Tarsius, Ang Bandang Shirley, Outerhope, Flying Ipis and a whole lot more. As I said, the movie is a testament to the ‘Indie’ lifestyle. Scenes shot at Guijo, B-side, Shift, and Cubao Expo were shot with color shifts that reminded you of that whole lomo trend that happened years back. The film breaks away from the typical Indie and Studio Produced films placing Ang Nawawala on a pedestal of its own.

Overall, this film is not your typical Filipino film. It’s not even your typical Indie film. It is but a wonderful love project that is infectious as it is beautiful.

 Ang Nawawala opened to nationwide screening on September 12, 2012. Catch it while it’s still being shown.

 Unbox score: 5/5


P.S. To this writer’s surprise apparently we were joined by Director Marie Jamora and Supporting actor Mark Abaya in the 9:40pm SM Megamall Sunday screening of the film. O_o wuw.

For more Ang Nawawala stuff visit these pages: and

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