Within and Without: Modern Relationships Through the Screen


official poster from Thomasian Film Society/Facebook

ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS in the digital age have been using virtual platforms as a medium for communication. At the peak of the pandemic, people turned to these tools to strengthen their relationships—romantic and platonic ones alike.

Aside from being a foundation of relationships, social media can also be a gateway to finding one. However, repercussions that can shatter relationships may rise.

The Thomasian Film Society (TFS) offers Within and Without, a coming-of-age story that centers on four teenagers and their pursuit of love through the screen. Directed by Christianne Lonzanida, the film is a three-part series available for streaming via TFS’s YouTube channel.

Within and Without begins with Matty (Bryce Cabrera), who encounters a post of a beautiful girl on his news feed. Despite being committed to Christine (Victoria Perote), Matty presses the heart button and sends an endearing comment to the post. Consequently, Christine becomes upset about what Matty has done. Then, he seeks counsel from his best friend Theo (Gabby de Guzman) to resolve his predicament.

screengrabbed from Thomasian Film Society/Youtube

Ironically, Matty’s dating counselor is single. Theo tries to tread the deep waters of online dating, but he continues to struggle as his insecurities weigh him down. Matty then advised him to use anonymity to talk to someone in a dating application—an attempt to get Theo out there virtually concealed.

As Theo dips his toes into online dating, he gets to meet Jesse (Alexandra Donato), a lady slowly opening herself up after a past relationship left her with trust issues. The manifestation of their emotional baggage leads to conflicts that drive their newfound connection to a rough patch.

Different problems and changes in modern relationship dynamics were tackled in this film. This includes catfishing, speed and lack of commitment of online dating and dating apps as a venue for relationship lottery.

The acting of the characters, particularly Matty and Jesse, was more fitting to a theatrical play than to a film. This was seen in their exaggerated actions and their use of the APO Hiking Society hit Doo Bidoo and Liza Soberano’s famous movie line in My Ex and Whys as references in normal conversations. 

Moreover, their acting needs more work. The execution of some actions like typing and making a video call did not look genuine and believable. It can irk those who spot nuances.

screengrabbed from Thomasian Film Society/Youtube

The visual aspect of the film was decent but there remains to be a lot of room for improvement. Many abrupt cuts while a character is talking can distract the audience. Moreover, using filters and color grading will allow the story to be told even in the way the actors appear.

In terms of sounds, the film had repetitive background music. It used a single score that hardly established the mood, as some scenes with the background music became abrupt and tedious. There were parts where the volume was inconsistent. One of the scenes that had fluctuating volume is when Christine and Matty had a confrontation. Some of their exchanges were not clearly delivered. This hampered the audience’s understanding of the story, as it usually happened during dialogues.

Nonetheless, the growth of the four characters was given justice throughout the plot. Although some of them met unforeseen circumstances, these circumstances were used as a narrative tool alongside the internet to encapsulate their coming-of-age stages. As a result, the film wielded both their romantic and platonic relationships to shape their character development.

Within and Without is an elaborate portrayal of how teenagers navigate their relationships and emotions within the confines of virtual platforms. Despite the inadequate visual aesthetics and limited film setting, it was able to convey how modern and genuine relationships are found and formed—transcending the limits of the screen. F

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