In the Air Tonight: A Review of "Ang Babaeng Allergic Sa WiFi"
Still ongoing is the weeklong Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, and there are some gems to be discovered. Heard good things about Chito Roño’s Signal Rock, Jason Laxamana’s Bakwit Boys, and Jay Abello’s Pinay Beauty. But the one I managed to catch and got charmed by, despite it following Youth film formula 101, is Jun Robles Lana’s Ang Babae Allergic sa WiFi. This would be largely on account of the deft writing and direction Lana brings to the table, and the smart casting of Sue Ramirez and Jameson Blake as our lead protagonists.
THIS JUST IN: Ang Babaeng Allergic Sa WiFi is now an Official Entry to the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino 2018! Watch for it in cinemas nationwide starting August 15! Written and Directed by @JunRoblesLana Starring Sue Ramirez @SueAnnaDoodles, @hashtag_Jameson Blake and introducing @Markus Paterson Produced by #CignalEntertainment, Octobertrain Films and @TheIdeaFirstCompany For more details follow Ang Babaeng Allergic Sa WiFi on IG: www.instagram.com/angbabaengallergicsawifi/ and check out the Film Development Council of the Philippines on IG: www.instagram.com/fdcpofficial/ #AngBabaengAllergicSaWiFi #PPP2018
It’s a quirky tale that’s set amidst campus life and takes potshots at our obsession with social media and being connected. Norma (Sue Ramirez) is the apple of the eye of nerdy Aries (Jameson Blake); but it turns out she’s the girlfriend of his elder brother and campus jock, Leo (Markus Paterson). Aries spends time with his best friend Macha (the feisty, diminutive, but scene-stealing Angeli Sanoy) and she’s the constant voice of sobering reason; but does so with sarcastic and exacting humor. The plot develops when Norma is diagnosed with Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity—nosebleeds when around mobile phones and WiFi radiation, and is brought to the province to recuperate at her Lola’s home, where there’s no signal at all.
Questions revolve around whether the relationship between Norma and Leo can survive, how Aries can figure in her life as a friend or more than, and just how important Honesty and Truth is in a world where it’s all about appearances on social media. Touched on as well is the prevalence of fake news, of ‘plastic’ friendships, and distinguishing between what’s real and experienced against what’s recorded and uploaded on social media to create an image of who we are. These are some serious and heavy issues; but that they’re all addressed with such a light touch, and within the context of teenage life, and wonderfully rendered by Lana and his cast.
Sure, there are formulaic plot lines to the proceedings; but it’s the charm that’s brought to bear on the proceedings that had me more than willing to be taken on the ride. Blake more than lives up to the promise he showed in 2 Cool 2 Be 4Gotten, and tackles this role with genuine heartthrob potential. Ramirez is adept at giving us the free spirit, unconventional beauty that Norma would possess; and Paterson plays the jock competently, but is a little stiff when asked to showcase a broader, more fragile, range.
Notable here are the support cast of veteran actors—Yayo Aguila, Candy Pangilinan, and Boots Anson Roa are the standouts and they’re all given their moments. John Lapus provides a surprise cameo; and as I mentioned, it’s Angeli Sanoy as our hero’s best friend who literally leaves us with the most solid impression. You literally look forward for each scene where she’s involved.
The film knows how to just stay this side of unexpected—eschewing the conventional ending and resolution. There is much being said about teenage love, about relationships and friendships, and that it’s relevant and current given our preoccupation with social media is icing on the proverbial cake. This is definitely one film I wasn’t allergic to.