Thursday, September 13, 2007

Philippine Science gets it right in depicting high school life, in that Degrassi Junior High type of way. There's even a moment when the school heartthrob puts on his hat ala Joey Jeremiah. Director Auraeus Solito depicts life at his real life alma matter, the elite Philippine Science High School, during a turbulent time in Philippine history. The film, based on his own experiences, follows 8 students from freshmen year through to graduation, during the early 80s. The format keeps the story moving well, as each of the four years focuses on 2 or 3 of the students in the group. And there could be parallels made to the Degrassi series: there’s a Joey, a Caitlin, a Mr. Raditch. But that’s not as much a case of deliberate imitation as it is recognizing the universal themes of high school life: dating, making grades, establishing identity.

What’s different is that they’re depicted against the backdrop of 1980s Philippines, a time of upheaval that builds to the People Power Revolution and the fall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The students contend with rebellion, class systems, and the high expectations carried by being chosen to attend Philippine Science High School. The kids are sweet, but the script is a little clunky: one well intended (based on an old schoolmate) but poorly executed plot doesn’t occur until the last act, as one student starts suffering a headache, and 3 scenes later he’s got cancer. The camera work was odd as it was excellent in the middle segments, but was dizzying as the opening theme of orbits is shown by keeping the camera constantly circling actors. But all in all, it was a sweet movie that I enjoyed. Like watching old Degrassi reruns. 3/5