By PATRICK V. MIGUEL
FAMILY IS a powerful word describing a bond made out of love and care. It is the first unit of socialization that will nurture and foster children as they grow up. Most define family as being limited to its fundamental nature: genetics and heritage. However, the time comes where individuals eventually divert from their family ties and adapt by themselves. In this sense, a family is not determined by blood, but bonds shared with one another.
Under the direction of Giancarlo Abraham, Sila-Sila tells the story of Gab (Gio Gahol) who returned to Manila after almost a year following his break up with Jared (Topper Fabregas). It is one of the featured films in the 15th year of Cinema One Originals film festival, winning awards such as Audience Choice Award, Best Screenplay, Best Picture, and Best Supporting Actor (Fabregas).
Sila-Sila revolves around themes such as the LGBT community, ghosting, and reconnecting drifted bonds between individuals. The film is not just any other movie with a queer protagonist. What sets it apart from the others is that it is a depiction of what every usual gay man tends to go through. Not only did it queer characters in a ghosting culture; it also depicted an interpretation of what a family should be.
The film began when Gab discovers that Jared is using a gay dating app, Grindr, to cheat. It pushed Gab to his boiling point until he decided to leave Jared and his friends without any notice, which in popular culture is called ghosting. After 11 months of no contact with them, he decides to come back. With the thought of reconnecting again, they still treat him as a part of the circle despite being gone for a long time.
Screenplay was the most favorable aspect of the film. Most noticeable was how the characters were genuinely written in order to relate along the audiences with mundane occurrences. Examples of those situations are conflicts in the workplace, choosing between career and love, and the feeling of being left out. The actor portrays a sense of wit incorporated in some sad scenes. An attestation to this was the part where Gab’s friends gave him a call-out intervention in a way of hot-seating him. It leaves the audience with a sense of frustration but also with a chuckle.
Unfortunately, Gahol and Fabregas’ chemistry was not the strongest point in the film. There seemed to be little connection as if there was a barrier between them. It is understandable that they drifted apart but there is no tinge of vulnerability between them.
Fabregas could easily outshine Gahol with his acting. His showcasing of emotions were believable due to its rawness. There was a scene when Fabregas broke down into tears caused by an unfortunate turn of events in his life, bearing heartbreaking agony. Thus, his award as the Best Supporting Actor is well-deserved.
Gab’s character is complex because even though he is the protagonist, he is also the antagonist—projecting a “man vs. himself” situation. The typical film with a queer character is usually pinned against society, but with Sila-Sila, every obstacle Gab has to go through starts within himself. This is what sets the film apart from other films with gay lead characters.
Gab reflects a bad example of what a gay man should be—a ghoster, homewrecker, passive-agressive, and self-centered. Perhaps one of the premises of the film is to leave the audience a lesson of what they should not be. It was hypocritical of him to be angry with Jared using Grindr behind his back because Gab himself is on the other side of an affair.
Above all else however, Gab is only a person before he is a gay man. People make mistakes and do unforgivable acts, and this is where the role of family enters. Sila-Sila leaves people with a lasting impression of how a family should be, which is to always be there for each other to call out the mistakes so that it will not happen again. There will be troubles and obstacles to surpass, but the important thing to do is to overcome those together because bonds get stronger each time in transcending difficulties. F