iWant review: Pioneering 'Love Lockdown' offers a glimpse of 'new normal' cinema

Fred Hawson

Posted at May 22 2020 11:35 AM

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The social distancing directive during this expanded community quarantine brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic really challenged the movie industry to think outside the box and come up with innovative ways to film their works. It seems that iWant, the digital content app platform of ABS-CBN, actually got a leg up on their competition and was able to figure out a way to create a full-length feature given the drastic limitations this lockdown had imposed. 

According to their press releases, "Love Lockdown" had been shot by the actors themselves from their own homes. This was done in virtual coordination with their team of directors, namely Andoy Ranay, Darnel Villaflor, Noel Escondo, and Emmanuel Palo. Aside from being their own cameraman, these actors had to also be responsible for their own production design, costumes, hair and makeup. 

Architect Jacob (Jake Cuenca) and fashion designer/vlogger Karen (Kylie Versoza) who were having the time of their lives quarantined together in a high-rise condo. However, problems arise when Lesley (Angelica Panganiban) called Jacob up. Meanwhile, Lesley who was being harassed by a stalker who seemed to have been able to enter her apartment. Her friendly neighbor med rep Allan (JM de Guzman) offered to help her cope with her intruder. Meanwhile, Allan's ex-girlfriend, online troll Abby (Sue Ramirez), gets involved with hunky businessman Darren (Tony Labrusca) and his mysterious friend Fred (Arjo Atayde).

The ensemble cast was a gathering of both A-list and emerging stars of ABS-CBN, and they all did not hold much back in their playing their respective flawed characters. The more senior actors, Cuenca, Panganiban and de Guzman, delivered restrained emotional performances. The younger actors, Versoza, Ramirez and Labrusca, pushed more with daring physicality. Atayde was given an offbeat character who could have been fleshed out more. 

For a project shot by the actors themselves, the camera work looked slick and impressive. In the first episode, the scenes were well-lit with sharp details. In contrast, the scenes in the second episode were more on the dull and dark side, as the story required. The third episode featured a sensual virtual encounter shot from several angles. Given the shooting limitations, these scenes must have been very challenging to execute for the actors. 

The sound and music all enhanced the atmosphere of tense suspenseful eroticism. The sexy scenes were there not just as a carnal tease, but were inherently vital in these intertwined stories of lustful obsessions. This was a novel approach to movie-making may temporarily be the new norm given these uncertain times. 

For employing an innovative technique that responded to unprecedented demands and a script that fully incorporated the crisis situation into its plot, this pioneering effort did very well for being the first-of-its-kind. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."