gibson bonifacio

Ang Nawawala (2012)

Every once in a while, I find a film so beautiful, moving and relatable that I find it hard to sum up in words. “Ang Nawawala” is such a film. Its subtelty and poignancy has cut my heart out and got me tongue-tied. It is so painfully sweet, so depressingly good that I am writing this review with so much and nothing to say at the same time. The film left me as speechless as its protagonist, and whatever writing I’m doing will probably end up as confused ramblings of an emotional girl.

Ironically, this is going to be a very long review containing NECESSARY SPOILERS. I am attempting to expound on the undertones which I can’t do without giving out some details. And because I’m getting really carried away.

SYNOPSIS

“Ang Nawawala” (What Isn’t There) focuses on 20-year old Gibson Bonifacio (Dominic Roco) who has not spoken in ten years. Because of trauma and guilt, he pulled away from the world, setting up his selective mutism as a wall. He comes home for Christmas to a dysfunctional family. His mother (Dawn Zulueta), a woman distant and broken, welcomes him with a cold heart. And when mother and son first look at each other after a long time, we see the pain and longing in Gibson’s eyes.

The Bonifacios are dysfunctional in a very quiet, somber way. They sit over dinner with awkward formality. Although the father (Boboy Garrovillo) tries to cheer everyone up, the cloud hanging over their heads is too heavy to disperse. We see a family portrait of depression. And when we notice one vacant chair on the other end of the table, we understand that something is really missing in the picture.

Gibson moves around the house like a ghost. He locks himself up in his bedroom, smokes pot, and plays his records. Even when he is spending time with his family, he doesn’t really connect with them completely. He tries, with the help of a video camera. He records moments he finds to be special, no matter how ordinary they are. And then he mashes them up in his computer, adding tracks of music that describe how he feels about these memories. He also reconnects with an old friend, Teddy (Alchris Galura), who introduces him to the local music scene. Here, he meets Enid (Annicka Dolonius). They are into the same things and she doesn’t judge him when she finds out he doesn’t talk. She becomes someone he can finally talk with, albeit not without his iPhone. And as her name implies, she brings “life” back to his existence.

NOW, JUST WHY I LOVE THIS FILM.

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