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Living Things is about the tale of lovers who encounter a sudden change in their relationship. The two must face a new reality making them reflect on the nature of love, relationships, and humanity. 

Living Things (2020) poster. Cinemalaya 2020 short film competition

This film posits an interesting question: What if one day, you found your loved one has changed suddenly? From this, Living Things makes the audience think about the complexity of building relationships and the inevitability of change that plagues it. 

The film plays on comedy as it takes a figurative question into a literal one. A short film delving into matters of love, romance, and relationships would have been difficult to watch. Through framing the problem differently, the film not only touches on the cheesy subject of love with fun and entertainment but also allows the audience to explore the complexity of relationship dynamics. 

The elements used in the story are simple – a millennial couple living in a dingy apartment, solving mundane problems. Even the production of the film is unpretentious as it was shot entirely on a mobile phone. But this seemingly simplistic route makes the narrative interesting to watch. The tale of the characters shows not only about issues of romantic relationships but of changes within people that come with age, trauma, and life experiences. Meanwhile,  the cinematography plays on the filters and lens associated with mobile photography and filmmaking. 

It is interesting to see how the film relates to the director’s earlier work – the 2015 Cinemalaya Best Short Film, Pusong Bato. Both films look at love and inanimate objects. They use humor to discuss issues of commitment and relationships. Also, they were successful in using an unreal world to comment on very real issues. 

Living Things is an unassuming work of art. It brings the audience plenty of hearty waves of laughter. But, what makes this film beautiful is that there is depth, beauty, and complexity in its simplicity. It inspires reflection and introspection more than other short films trying to be serious and philosophical. 

Video essay/review on Living Things entry to Cinemalaya 2020 short film competition