This is a review of Marlon Rivera’s Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough.
Trivia: Between 2014 and 2015, Eugene Domingo took up extensive Spanish classes at Instituto Cervantes – Manila. This movie partly explains that.
Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough (The Woman in the Septic Tank) is a follow up of Marlon Rivera’s highly-acclaimed Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, which debuted in 2011 Cinemalaya Festival. Like its predecessor, Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: ForeverIsNotEnough is a satirical film. While the first film parodies the poverty porn obsession of indie Filipino filmmakers to gain international recognition, the sequel makes fun of mainstream filmmakers’ fixation on making formulaic romantic comedies (romcoms).
Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough stars an over-the-top version of Eugene Domingo (Eugene Domingo) who plays the melancholic and muted Romina in the movie within the movie called The Itinerary. The Itinerary, written and will be directed by may personal na pinagdadaanan Rainier de la Cuesta (Kean Cipriano), who also helmed the award-winning Walang Wala (With Nothing), is Domingo’s comeback film. Although she claims she likes the script of The Itinerary, she uses a day at the spa as bribe to tweak it to suit her personal intentions.
As the hours of relaxation (or torture if you do not like anything organic and healthful) go by, Eugene the actress tries to push her own agenda. Eugene fancies herself as a wig-wearing and clad-in-floral-dresses romantic leading lady with a young romantic leading man, frolicking in the forest, kissing against the sunset and running after said young romantic leading man in the rain with the theme song playing in the background. What she hopes for is the entire opposite of what the script of The Itinerary presents. This is where Eugene and Rainier head butt, but with Eugene softening the blow with her pabebe remarks like, “after all what do I know. I am just an actress. It is still your call, you are the director”.
Since Eugene and Rainier do not see things eye to eye, from the spa activities to Eugene’s leading man (the experienced Joel Torre or the nakakakilig Jericho Rosales), Jocelyn (Cai Cortez), the line producer of The Itinerary, often intervenes to appease the huge egos of two artistic parties. She performs her job well, between her gandang ganda sa sarili Instagram updates and harmless flirtations with Eugene’s all-around Spanish go-fer, fitspiration and cheerleader Facundo (Gui Adorno).
In the end, that luxurious day at the spa is not just Eugene versus Rainier. It is not just an actress and her whims versus a director with a creative foresight nor is it about magnifying romance versus suffering (escapism versus reality). *Ultimately, it is mainstream movies versus independent films. As Eugene says, independent film industry is dead, dying or terminally ill. Indie films are made for the sake of artistic freedom and critical praises but they are not made for the common masa, the Juans paying P250.00 (US $5.00) to watch movies. It goes without saying that one of them emerges victorious from the facial, massages and the colonics. But, the victor has karma on its path, ready to shower the winner a dose of its own medicine.
Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough is Eugene Domingo – she is the be-all and end-all of the film. As usual, Domingo does not disappoint. She is brilliant as herself and as Romina. She is not afraid to make fun of herself as she contorts her face and body to get her point across, especially in the “kalabaw sa putikan” scene. She is loveable as the spoiled actress shielded from reality and blinded from her deficiencies (I cannot with her choice of young leading man at the end, but it made me laugh so hard). Her Spanish is good; her professors at Instituto Cervantes – Manila must be proud. And Domingo sings, too!!!
Cipriano sparkles as Rainier. Without the presence of JM de Guzman’s character (who is studying film in United States), Cipriano’s character has longer exposure that enables him to have a backstory. His tortured artistic character is so him, which makes him look relaxed and natural in front of the camera.
It is hard to take one’s eye off Domingo, but Cortez’s Jocelyn makes that possible. Her fun and bubbly character is a palate cleanser between Eugene’s excessive brattiness and Rainier’s moroseness. She is the voice of sanity that keeps the movie from being overbearing.
The tandem of scriptwriter Chris Martinez and director Marlon Rivera brings forth another successful film in Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough. It is hilarious in many levels, like the three hugot levels the film mentions. However, it is also a critique of the local film industry. Like the indie film that spawned this sequel, it uses humor to ridicule the shallowness and follies of movie producers and by extension, the movie-going public. It is brave enough to make fun of the formulaic romcom movies and back its claims with an excellent product that exaggerates every romcom cliché imaginable. And for that, I give it two thumbs up.
*And no, indie films are not dead, dying or terminally ill. This film and several Metro Manila Film Festival entries attest to this. It is just a line from the film.
Three Levels of Hugot According to Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough:
Hugot Level 1 – Hugot sa hangin. Mababaw pero mahapdi.
Hugot Level 2 – Hugot sa Utak. The character will say, “what the fuck! Ano raw? Pakiulit!” Masakit sa puso at sa utak. It means repeat audience.
Hugot Level 3 – Hugot Lupasay / Laslas Level. It includes quotable quotes that make the film an instant classic. The long and winding amalgamation of hugot lines confuses the audience, but it makes the movie “trending” in social media.
Hugot Lines from Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough:
“Mamamatay ako kapag nawala ka.” – Cesar (Jericho Rosales) to Romina (Eugene Domingo), to which Romina replies, “Ipapa-cremate kita”.
“I do believe that every great love story deserves a theme song.” – Eugene Domingo (Eugene Domingo) to Rainier de la Cuesta after she sings “Forever is not Enough” with ukulele accompaniment and Facundo’s interlude).
“Yuta” and “Dipuga” – Joel Torre. Both are Ilonggo phrases, which roughly mean “hijo de puta” in Spanish, but can also mean fuck.