Aug 1, 2018

[Movies] Endo (2007) Review

One of the best things about iflix is how their content library includes not just Filipino films but many award-winning films and interesting independent projects that debuted at this or that film festival. Having one place to find good (or at least interesting) local entertainment content is a blessing in itself. It's sadly difficult to legally get your hands on local content unless you catch their DVD runs at the right time.

Endo is one such independent project that debuted at the 2007 Cinemalaya festival and went on to win the Special Jury Prize along with a nomination for Best Film at the festival. The movie went on to win many other awards as granted by different award-giving bodies.

The movie is an interesting twist on what you could consider to be typical Filipino movie fare in the form of a love story. But it's not at all your regular romance and one that's framed by the challenges of contractualization that limit the progress of the Filipino labor force even today.

Synopsis: Endo is a Filipino romance movie written and directed by Jade Castro along with other co-writers Michiko Yamamoto and Raymond Lee. The movie has won many awards including the Gawad Urian Award for Best Screenplay and the Young Critics Circle Award for Best Achievement in Film Editing and Best Achievement in Sound and Aural Orchestration.

Leo (Jason Abalos) starts the movie as barista of sorts at a small cafe - yet another short-term job in a string of contractual jobs he's taken over the years. These shorter term jobs are the only way he's able to make ends meet but sooner or later the end of contract or "endo" comes along and thus comes the time for him to move along as well.

He then meets Tanya (Ina Feleo), who still seems to have retained her optimism and idealism despite their similar status as contract workers. She is a beacon of hope and one that may just inspire Leo to be much more than he has allowed himself to be in years. But it's hard to break out of old habits for the likes of Leo. And perhaps Tanya will finally get him to start thinking long-term.

What I Liked: The move is very understated and doesn't go for the usual hijinks you get in local love stories. Instead you get a subtle growing attraction that blossoms into something special for our two protagonists and this carries you through the movie. Beyond how the story was structured and the sequences the characters went through, naturally a lot of their success was thanks to the skilled acting talent involved.

You'd think that it wouldn't take much to portray two young people falling in love but the combined efforts of Abalos and Feleo brought a special chemistry to the movie. There aren't too many other characters involved and so the movie really had to be carried by the two of them and the overall effect was pretty special indeed. And they didn't have to resort to loud outbursts of emotion but managed to celebrate the small moments in their own way.

What Could Have Been Better: That said, there was a bit of a juggle between depicting the short-term nature of their respective employment versus developing the romance plot. And if you weren't too familiar with the employment practice to begin with and just how many jobs fall under limited contractual arrangements, then you might not fully pick up on how the "endo" culture permeates the film.

Beyond that some of the scenes felt a little extraneous to things like the guy who repeatedly tries to order things that aren't on the menu, but of course I'm sure there's potentially more subtle meaning to a lot of these seemingly throwaway scenes with repeat viewing. But yeah, there's a lot of subtlety at work for good or for bad, depending on what sort of a viewer you are.

TL;DR: Endo is a rather brilliant movie that manages to convey so much through seemingly so little. Great story with strong performances make for a unique cinematic experience. Thus the movie gets a full 5 odd jobs that Leo and Tanya take out of a possible 5.

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