Cinemalaya review: 'Sana Dati' is time-warped singularity

By Fred Hawson

Posted at Jul 31 2013 11:59 AM | Updated as of Aug 01 2013 02:41 AM

Cinemalaya review: 'Sana Dati' is time-warped singularity 1

The poster of "Sana Dati" suggests that this is a love story. I am not much of a romance film watcher, but so far, this is one of the entries in this year's Cinemalaya Film Festival that is gaining the most awards buzz. Hence, I made time to watch it today.

The story revolves around Andrea (Lovi Poe) on her wedding day to Robert (TJ Trinidad). When videographer Dennis (Paulo Avelino) interviews the bride about her pre-nuptial thoughts, events from the past about another man Andrew (Benjamin Alves) begin to resurface, threatening the very special event meant to happen that day.

On the purely visual level, I have to say that "Sana Dati" is a very cleanly-executed Filipino indie film. Among the few local indies I have had the chance to watch, I am going to call this the neatest one in the technical standpoint.

The camera work is breathtakingly beautiful. The lighting, the colors, the camera angles, all flawlessly artistic. This is likely going to be a leading contender in the Best Cinematography category during awards season.

The script by Ramon Ukit is uncommonly erudite for a local film. We hear quotes from Mexican poetry. We hear references to concepts in quantum physics. This is clearly not a banal screenplay. The plotting is smart. The symbolism is profound. The humor is welcome. The tension is unbearable. The ending is not predictable.

The acting style was restrained while deeply emotional. No hysteria. You see their pain and yearning in the eyes. Lovi Poe is achingly elegant in her confusion. TJ Trinidad is turbulently steadfast in his stress. Paulo Avelino is cryptically laconic in his mystery. Benjamin Alves is hauntingly ideal in his memory.

The editing of the inter-crossing flashback and fast-forward of story sequences can get confusing. Our appreciation of time is lost at times. You will wonder how long certain events are happening. I sort of feel this seemingly distorted sense of time could have been done on purpose though, given the context of the film's conflicts.

Director Jerrold Tarog tells his story not so much in flashy action, but more in sensitive conversations among the characters. It is visually dazzling, intellectually stimulating, and emotionally connecting. Overall, I think this is one unique Filipino film worthy of our admiration and support. 8/10.

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