“Karl Vladimir Lennon J. Villalobos, aka Intoy, is secretly in love with his friend Jenny, the most beautiful girl in the campus. Jenny is rich and quirky; Intoy is street-smart and ordinary. But this friendship is not simple, since Jenny has bestowed on Intoy some perks and privileges, including going to bed with her on the condition that they will not fall in love with each other. Before graduation, Intoy feels that he has to shed his pretensions of being astig and finally profess his love for Jenny. But he is devastated to learn that Jenny is pregnant. Worse, Jenny tells him: “Don’t worry, this is not yours.” Based on the bestselling novel of Eros S. Atalia, Ligo na U, Lapit na Me is an examination of postmodern love and relationship and the way this generation deals with their love and fear.”
The last entry I saw prior to the awards night was Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me–which I initially didn’t want to watch because of the title. It’s text lingo here in the Philippines that means “go and take a bath, I’m already near.” But when I read the synopsis (and other viewers’ feedback) I changed my mind. Except I was too late, because most showings were already sold out.
My friend from work was able to score tickets though for an additional screening yesterday–and so we watched, and I have to say I was a little underwhelmed.
The material was very intriguing: what do you do when you find out that the girl you love likes you enough to fuck you–but not enough to commit to you? And what do you do when she tells you that she’s pregnant with someone else’s child? It’s fertile storytelling ground! But we spend more time with the awkward courtship between our two main characters than actually exploring their relationship further. Which irks me.
Like in Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa, we get an amazing female lead in Jenny (Mercedes Cabral) in that she doesn’t fit into any film stereotype–especially here in the Philippines. She is who she is not because of any trauma or what-not; she is who she is because it’s who she chooses to be.
And choice plays a big part in this film. Intoy, our main character, always has to make choices in his friendship with Jenny–and he always chooses the easier way–the one with less drama. Which, being the non-confrontational type that I am, I can relate to. Except he keeps choosing the easy way out throughout the whole film, and it gets frustrating. We do finally get a sense of him growing as a character near the end, only for us to be given an open ending. What happens next?
Promising. That’s what I feel the film is. But I don’t think it’s a particularly great film. It’s good, it’s better than most film I’ve seen–but I don’t think the film ultimately lived up to its promise. Though, it could also be because I got turned off by the multiple love scenes between Intoy and Jenny that cheapened their relationship for me. It’s one thing to allude to it, or talk about it, it’s another thing to see it every ten minutes. (Which is a bit of an exaggeration.) There was a point in the movie where I wondered if Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me is a soft-porn movie masquerading as a film.
I’m not a prude. I’m fine with sex. But as the film wrapped up, I kept looking for the reasons why we needed to see the multiple love scenes and I found none. The revelations we get, we could have gotten from the relationship that was shown between Intoy and Jenny outside the motel room. The development Intoy goes through also happens outside the motel room. I’m not saying the love scenes should’ve been taken out all together–I’m just saying there should be less. And when there is one, it should be because there’s a development we’re supposed to see. Like, spoilers for those who haven’t seen the film, when Intoy beds a prostitute. That love scene I understood the need for.
Seeing as I’m already writing this after the awarding ceremony, I want to congratulate Edgar Allan Guzman for bagging the Best Actor award for this film. I didn’t think it was that stellar when I was watching it, but the jury clearly saw something that I didn’t. What do I know? I’m not a professional film critic, I’m just a guy who writes his reactions online.
Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me will have one more showing on July 29, 8pm. Seats are already sold out, but the person I inquired with said that they will still sell standing-room-only tickets on the day of the screening.
Edited to add: This movie was graded ‘B’ by the Cinema Evaluation Board, and will start screening in theaters nationwide on September 7. The same day that Rakenrol will also start screening.