Apocalypse Child (Philippines, 2015) [NYAFF 2016]
Directed and co-written by Mario Cornejo (along with Monster Jimenez), Apocalypse Child is a character-driven drama that at its core is about the relationship between two young men. Ford (Sid Lucero) is someone who doesn’t seem to want to grow up. He is a high school dropout making a living as a surfing instructor in the resort town of Baler, famed for its surfing and having been where the site for the surfing scenes of Apocalypse Now (1979) were filmed. Ford’s mother hung around the set as a 14-year-old girl and an urban legend has grown that Ford is in fact the son of Francis Ford Coppola. Ford’s best friend throughout childhood, Rich (RK Bagatsing), a new congressman, has returned to his hometown to introduce his new fiancé and mourn the loss of his father, the former governor of Baler. Ford is involved with Fiona (Annicka Dolonius), one of his students while still living with his mother. Rich encourages his fiancé Selena (Gwen Zamora) to take surfing lessons from Ford, which they all agree to. As the film progresses we learn bits and pieces of Ford and Rich’s relationship and what happened in their past to have created such a chill between the men who were practically raised together.
First off, the biggest stand-out element of Apocalypse Child is the cinematography. The scenery is beautiful without being overpowering and the shots of the surfing in the water have an almost dream-like quality. As for the characters, they are all well-rounded and genuine, and the actors manage to convey a realness to these people. You want to know who they are and understand them and their motivations. Where Rich is practical and has ambitions for his life, Ford is content to live in the moment. During their interactions there is a sense of love and pain between them and even though Ford doesn’t really want to face reality, he is eventually forced to. Ford’s mother Chona (Ana Abad Santos) is another character who seems to have embraced her fantasy of who Ford’s father actually is and is also apprehensive about having to face reality. Selena and Fiona grasp the friction that exists between Ford and Rich and each woman deals with that knowledge in their own way, as well as how that friction affects their own relationships with the men. Conversations between the characters are natural and everyone, even the viewer, understands what is going on without any heavy or detailed dialogue.
Apocalypse Child is a beautiful and powerful film and I highly recommend seeing it.
Apocalypse Child is showing as part of the New York Asian Film Festival on Thursday June 23 at 6:15pm at the Walter Reade Theater. Tickets can be purchased from the Film Society of Lincoln Center website.