As there were three movies about senior citizens in this year's Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino ("Lola Igna," "Circa" and "Pagbalik"), there were also three movies about young people -- "LSS," "G!" and this one, "I'm Ellenya L."
Ellenya (Maris Racal) is a pretty and perky 22-year-old who is obsessed with her social media popularity. She could not hold a day job and instead would spend her days whipping up fresh content for her Instagram account.
While her father Toots (Gio Alvarez) over-indulged his daughter's whims, her strict grandma Madz (Nova Villa) constantly kept her grounded with her lectures.
At first things were simpler, with her childhood best friend and neighbor Stephen (Inigo Pascual) patiently helping her with her photos and vlogs. One day, when Ellenya met popular online guru Kyle Quintos (Pat Sugui), he gave her a big break to be a model for an event.
Without giving the offer a second thought, Ellenya agreed right away, knowing this was her big break to become the viral influencer she aspired to be.
I knew Racal and Pascual as TV personalities, but this is the first feature film I had seen them in. Racal as the vivacious Ellenya embodied the current generation of spirited millennials many of whom have the dream of being social media celebrities.
On the other hand, Pascual as the protective Stephen balanced Ellenya's recklessness with his cautious sensibility. They looked good together and had great chemistry as a couple (but of course they did not know it yet at first).
Gio Alvarez, a 90s teen idol who is now a hefty 40-something, played Ellenya's delightfully supportive musician father. The jurors gave Alvarez the Best Supporting Actor award for his breezy performance, his very first acting award ever.
Veteran actress Villa played yet another cantankerous grandmother as she has been usually typecast in playing (as she did in "Miss Granny"). I felt her words of wisdom during Ellenya's crying scene could have been worded better to make for a more poignant effect.
Sugui and Galang played Kyle and Gerrie, celebrity social media managers whom Ellenya idolized.
There were several celebrity cameos to catch to add to the viewing fun. Sue Ramirez played herself as the number one celebrity vlogger client of Kyle. There was a group of "tribesmen" who performed during the main event, and these were actually Joross Gamboa, Ketchup Eusebio, Antonio Aquitania and Vandolph Quizon.
By keeping everything fun, light and entertaining, director Boy 2 Quizon created an effective cautionary tale about over-obsession with social media among the millennial generation and younger.
The climax was a bit too graphic and over-the-top, but if the filmmakers were aiming for a big shock, then they definitely achieved it, and explosively so! Call it disgusting or disturbing, in any case it made a solid memorable impact.
That is how a message should be delivered for it to catch the attention of its target audience and make a major impression on them.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."