by Heinrich Domingo
The Breakup Playlist exhibits the journey of Philippine Cinema – struggling between looking for what is financially stable and striving for an outstanding content.
We wish to spare you from the discussion of film criticism or lectures of the history of Philippine cinema, yet, we cannot help but see this Star Cinema’s newest as an ideal piece for deconstruction and rationalization.
At the big screen, we see the marriage of two worlds – that of the independent film and of the mainstream media. On one side, The Breakup Playlist was released by Star Cinema, the country’s largest motion picture company. On the other hand, it was directed by Dan Villegas (best known for his low-budget yet award-winning English Only Please) and written by Antoinette Jadaone (debuted on her trending That Thing Called Tadhana) both of whom started in the world of Independent Philippine Cinema.
At the beginning
The sequence of events resembles that of the 500 Days of Summer. The chronological arrangement shows the approach that presents the sandwiching of past and present. This creative adaptation is reminiscent to the beginning of the Philippine cinema. In 1912, an American created a film about Jose Rizal. It is believed to have created a spark among educated Filipinos that time. It is often easier to stand on the shoulders of a giant.
Adapting to what is established and popular serves as a foundation of any successful film in the country. More often than not, producers are afraid of delivering a craft that can surprise the audience. The case is the same in The Breakup Playlist. We see familiar faces of ABS-CBN’s top artists Piolo Pascual (as Gino Avila) and Sarah Geronimo (as Trixie David). As the audience screams loud for their idols, we immediately notice that we are in the ground of Filipino pop culture.
There is an apparent need to bank on the good looks of Pascual and Geronimo. Although Gino David’s role could have been better portrayed by JM de Guzman, Papa P’s stature and chiseled face delivered a sufficient performance.
The Golden Age
In the 1950s, cinematic techniques emerge in the country bringing artistic breakthrough in the decade and the next ones that came. Despite being called the golden age, films during these times did not improve content.
In The Breakup Playlist, the effective use of silhouettes in Dan Villegas’s photographic shots was outstanding. Also, the cinematography was helpful in the over-all story telling. It delivered coherence in the emotion of the characters. Yet, the plot was repetitive. It presented storylines which Filipinos are already familiar – a happy ending of two good looking characters after overcoming a major fight.
Some details might have been added such as inclusion of OPM and the concept of envy in a relationship. But such additions were not sufficient to salvage the film.
The Fall of Philippine Cinema
The Breakup Playlist reflects the journey of Philippine Cinema. It has a promising beginning that uses popular artists and tested story-telling techniques. Additionally, it introduces to the mainstream crowd the cinematographic techniques often shown in independent films. It could have been beautiful only to be ruined by its ending.
Like what has happened in the 1960s, the movie reached downfall due to the entry of commercialism. The need to acquire support from the public requires artistic decline. The movie has to end with Piolo and Sarah’s (all too fake) kissing scene rather than following a more logical breakup.
In general, the movie could be a good beginning to mainstream films. Relatively, The Breakup Playlist presents a more complex story than movies produced by Star Cinema for the last five years.
Yet, we believe that Filipinos should not be content with mediocrity. In a nation where creative thinking and liberalism thrive, we are entitled to ask for more.
Do you agree with our review? Share us your thoughts through putting comments below. Cinephiles unite!