Thin Plot, Lackluster Star

PNS — THE CINEMALAYA entry “Mayohan” is the directorial debut of Dan Villegas. Its main drawback is the story is so thin and the characters are not that interesting.

The lead character is a teen boy, Elijah Castillo (“Pepot Artista”), who’s taking a vacation in his grandma’s house in Infanta, Quezon. He’s limping and we learn that he’s still recovering from a car crash that claimed the lives of his parents. In Infanta, he gets infatuated with Lilibeth (Lovi Poe), the president of the youth organization in charge of the annual summer dance. She’s the illegitimate child of the town mayor and her mom abandoned her as a child, with her grandma raising her. She wants to go to Manila and live a new life by herself. Nothing much happens in the film as most filmmakers now prefer “bitin” endings where you don’t really know what happened to the characters. But what holds it together is Lovi’s luminous screen presence. When she’s on cam, Lovi glows in a manner never before captured by her past screen appearances on film and TV. She fits the role of Lilibeth perfectly, since it’s common knowledge that she herself is a love child in real life, so the way she registers her character’s angst comes out so naturally. The film could have been more endearing had it cast another actor. Elijah does well but, on screen, he looks like a cross between Aiza Seguerra and Vandolph. Imagine, how captivating this movie would be if the likes of Joshua Dionisio or John Manalo were playing this vital role. We also don’t like the generalization that girls in rural areas are now easy lays and as sluttish as their city counterparts. That’s really doing our young women a lot of disservice.