Alon: The Receding Waves


Photo screen grab from Facebook


REDEMPTION comes from recalling one’s mistakes. It then ripples to the will to amend for them. On the other hand, seeking to forget only adds salt to the wound, making it difficult to forgive oneself.

Directed by Teresa Urmatam, a UST communication arts graduate, Alon is one of the 14 featured short films of Sine Reel 2021. The film is about loss, grief, and recovery and is currently streaming free on iWantTFC.

Alon opens in a joyous atmosphere. In the beginning, the audience is introduced to the wholesome bond of the Fajardo family. The three siblings, Issa (Chin Jongko), Eman (Jeremy Sayas), and Imy (Katrina Urmatam), are shown having comfortable banter with their parents while on their way to the beach. 

However, the lively scene is only a mere foreshadowing of what is to come. When they arrive at the beach, Issa, the eldest, stares in wonder at the open sea while Eman repeatedly apologizes for drooling on her shoulder. 

After this, the mood suddenly shifts. The following scene shows Eman and Imy meeting in front of a funeral home. It is soon revealed that Issa had died, although the film leaves the cause unknown. However, implicit details tell how Issa’s problems brought her to end her life.

Diving deeper into the siblings’ relationship, the story reveals that Eman has more caged regrets than Imy. Eman could not forgive himself for being absent during Issa’s suffering. Although there was no elaborate explanation of his absence, the dialogue between the two remaining siblings implied that Eman wished that they could have done something for Issa while she was still alive. His remorse is rooted in his ignorance of her older sister’s afflictions. 

After the funeral, the Fajardos decide to take Issa’s urn home. As the house heads to bed, Eman takes the peace of isolation to light a candle for his sister. He erupts into tears in front of Issa’s picture, remembering the car ride to the beach. 

The scene shifts to  Imy descending the staircase to join her brother in grieving. Together, they share a moment of weakness in light of the loss of their eldest sibling. After composing themselves, Eman shares an idea with Imy and they agree to commit a conclusive act of redemption.

Seeing how the siblings deal with the death of an essential member of their trio makes the viewers feel for them. This empathy is further heightened in the interactions between Eman and Imy, which also shows how they deal with their grief. 

Eman relies on Imy’s strength to the point he forgets that she is grieving too. Imy, on the other hand, remains loyal to her brother. This is evident in how she constantly reassures Eman to wash away every doubt in his mind. Her support makes the achievement of Eman’s arc more satisfying, as it strengthens his character when he discovers a healthy way of letting go. 

Aside from the plot, the film uses color to distinguish characters from the people around them. For instance, Issa wore a blue shirt on their way to the beach, setting her apart from her siblings.  

Moreover, during Issa’s funeral, Eman and Imy both wore blue tops, which is highly unusual for attending a funeral. The colors show the siblings separated themselves from the others, who wore the conventional black and symbolizes their oneness with their deceased sister. 

Overall, the plot is engaging. It also highlights the dynamics between the siblings. Throughout the film, the dialogue successfully establishes the powerful connection between Issa, Eman, and Imy. Through jests and physical closeness, it is clear that the siblings are free of any emotional restraint. 

Within the 18-minute mark of the film, Alon divulges the fragility of every moment spent in one’s life, creating the fear of committing mistakes that lead to regret. In reality though, mistakes are inevitable. How one finds absolution entirely depends on the determination of the individual. 

Like waves that crash against the bed of sand on the shore, life will find itself surging through the chaos. However, these waves do not stay ashore; they always find their way back to the peace of the ocean, just as the solace of forgiveness finds the troubled. F

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