Maganda ang kwento at mahusay ang acting sa ‘The Gifted.’ Panoorin kung nag-enjoy ka sa Kimmy Dora o Here Comes the Bride. Panoorin with friends para masarap ang tawanan. At panoorin hanggang end credits!
SYNOPSIS: Zoe Tuazon may be fat and Aica Tabayoyong may be an ugly duckling, but these two girls were gifted with a very high IQ. Even though they are the best of friends, Zoe is getting tired of being second best to Aica. So when new student Mark Ferrer comes along and catches Aica’s attention, Zoe uses him to destroy Aica and their friendship. Ten years later, Zoe and Aica, now both gorgeous vixens (thanks to cosmetic surgery), cross paths once again. And they have matters to settle.
GENRE: Comedy, Romance
DIRECTOR & WRITER: Chris Martinez
CAST: Anne Curtis | Sam Milby | Cristine Reyes | Candy Pangilinan | Dominic Ochoa | Arlene Muhlach | Ricky Rivero | Raquel Villavicencio | Abby Bautista | Alliyah Fatima Dela Riva | Rubi Rubi | Via Antonio | Ashley Rivera | Shehyee | Clark Merced | Kalila Aguilos | Jelson Bay | Isay Alvarez | Patricia Ysmael | Roden Araneta | Ana Abad-Santos | Juan Miguel Urquico | Juan Carlos Urquico | Marco Brillo | Jason Barraquio
The Gifted begins at a book reading of up-and-coming writer Marco Yuzon’s (Sam Milby) similarly-named novel. As Marco reads the first chapter of his book, he shares of a beauty pageant contestant who was supposedly asked to choose between having beauty and having brains. To which the contestant asked back: why can’t I have both?
And why not indeed? Because if the recent commercially-released Filipino movies is a beauty pageant, then this movie has both style and substance.
The movie revolves around two girls: Zoe Tuazon (Abby Bautista) and Aica Tabayoyong (Alliyah Fatima Dela Riva). Both have exceptionally high IQs but both also have…challenging physical appearances. Their combined intelligence made them each other’s best friend and fiercest competitor, with Aica always ending up on top. This changed during their senior year in high school, when hot-but-dim transfer student Mark Ferrer (also played by Milby) catches the attention of Aica (now played by Cristine Reyes). Seeing Aica’s crush/distraction on Mark as an opportunity to be number one for the first time, Zoe (Anne Curtis) devises devious schemes with Mark, at the cost of her and Aica’s friendship.
Their falling out also drove both Zoe and Aica to strive for perfection and success, including resorting to cosmetic enhancements. When they cross paths again ten years later, the scheming and plotting commences once again, leading to drastic consequences. (Or so the viewers are led to believe. At least up until midway through the end credits.)
Chris Martinez…was able
to successfully recreate
his winning formula in this
Chris Martinez, whose previous screenwriting and directing credits include the Kimmy Dora trilogy, Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank, and Here Comes the Bride, was able to successfully recreate his winning formula in this movie. He was able to reuse similar elements in his previous works—the campy/bitchy/sarcastic banter, the local pop culture references (KAVOGUE magazine! Shampoo commericals!), the blink-and-you-missed-it subtle humor, the equal-opportunity eye-candy baiting—but he used them just at the right places and at the right timings for them not to become too cliché. The quips and the subtleties are actually the ones that made the film more enjoyable, the latter greatly helped by the camerawork and sound editing. There’s this sequence in the film where Zoe and Aica finally meet face-to-face post-transformations; apart from the ominous beats reminiscent of the Hollywood movie Kill Bill, one should take notice of the flaming wok in the background to fully appreciate (and laugh out loud at) the scene.
And the science! The contraptions featured in this movie are already worth a third of the ticket price.
Also worth the ticket price and almost two hours’ worth of people’s time are the actors. Kudos to Martinez for giving his three lead actors roles that are juicy enough for them to sink their acting chops into. Zoe and Aica are both relatable and flawed enough for the audience to understand the characters’ actions and motivations. At some points it became too much of a virgin-versus-tramp dichotomy, but what’s good is that there’s no clear winner in terms of who the viewers should root for. And the surprise ending somehow ties these characterizations up quite nicely. Special mention must be given to Curtis as well, who apparently got the juiciest of the parts. Despite the obvious fat suit and sometimes uneven prosthetics and makeup, she did a really excellent job portraying spoiled, scheming, and (towards the end) seriously crazy Zoe.
Another good thing about The Gifted is that it was also able to inject—for a lack of a better term—”lessons” without being too preachy. Therein lies the “substance” mentioned earlier: behind the jokes on obesity, nerdiness, and poor grammar is a commentary on the “perfect” ideal versus being happy just the way you are. This is the very reason I hesitate to call this film a dark comedy, despite what the marketing materials and promos say. If we go by its traditional definition, a dark comedy makes fun of an otherwise serious subject matter. Is it the case here? Not entirely, because the movie straddles the line between stereotypes and archetypes. Perhaps The Gifted even leans more towards the latter. After all, people tend to laugh the loudest when the jokes ring the truest. ♦