Shealea reacts to: 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten (2016) – a film review


Title: 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten
Director: Petersen Vargas
Writer: Jaxon Paul Laxamana
Cast: Khalil Ramos (Felix), Ethan Salvador (Magnus), Jameson Blake (Maxim)
Genre: Drama, Coming of Age
Year of release: 2016

* More about the film on IMDb and Facebook.
* Watch the official movie trailer.

2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten, a 2016 Cinema One Originals film* directed by Petersen Vargas, is a coming-of-age drama following the life of a friendless high school sophomore named Felix. In the beginning, Felix is first introduced as a rather arrogant overachiever who believes his self to be a cut above the rest of his schoolmates. Later on, however, the narrative shifts its focus towards his fascination with the newly transferred Filipino-American Snyder brothers, and consequently, the unlikely friendship that develops among the three of them.

Brief rambling: I wrote this piece for my Film 100 class, which required me to write a review for a Cinema One Originals film. Thankfully, the UP Film Institute held a week’s worth of screenings for such films. Yay!

Set in the late 1990s, the film is quick to establish that the story dates a few years after the ill-fated Mount Pinatubo eruption. Moreover, it carefully explores the disaster’s aftermath and the plight of its victims. Aside from providing fresh insight on a significant, historical calamity, 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten also offers a narrative that is greatly relevant to our culture.

For one thing, the story brings to light a number of problematic mentalities and socially enforced stigma that are generally still being faced by our current generation. Some of which include, but are not limited to, colonial mentality, the stifling of cultural identity, and the blatant aversion towards issues considered as taboo. As an example, in the earlier portion of the movie, high school students are explicitly instructed to speak only in English; those who use their native tongue are punished and publicly embarrassed.

Additionally, and perhaps more relevantly, the story largely addresses the complexities of human moral compasses as well as the struggles of the youth as they come of age. The characters are dynamic and dimensional, occasionally fluctuating between opposite ends of traditional morals – there are no purely good guys and clearly defined villains. Themes such as sexual desire, sexuality, and violence are tackled through unorthodox approaches relative to most coming-of-age motion pictures.

Personally, I paid extra attention to the film’s setting as it primarily takes place in my provincial area, Pampanga. It was delightful to find very familiar places being displayed on the big screen and to listen to conversations expressed in Kapampangan. One aspect I did not like was the high school teacher’s prominent accent. There is a running stereotype that when Kapampangans speak in English, they add the ‘h’ sound to words that begin with ‘i’. The accuracy behind this generalization is debatable, but nonetheless, I found the accent unnecessary and distracting.

As a whole, the technical aspects of 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten are spot on and well-developed. I was impressed by the cinematography because the footage is cleanly edited and the usage of zoomed-in, wide angle and/or blurred shots is done carefully and deliberately. Every shot is done with intention. Similarly, the production design is equally remarkable. The featured locations, I think, hit the nail on the head, the costumes complement the projected vibes of the characters, and the number of distracting props is minimal. I particularly liked the film’s soundtrack. Other than being well-timed and well-integrated into the story, the chosen music collectively gives off a warm ‘90s feel and a strangely nostalgic atmosphere.

With regards to the acting, it was Ethan Salvador who left the most distinct impression on me. His portrayal as the older Snyder brother, Magnus, works well with Felix’s intentional awkwardness, making their friendship believable and charming. Honestly, I initially struggled with Felix’s character, played by Khalil Ramos, because I kept feeling oddly uncomfortable as I watched him act out scenes and deliver lines. Later on, I understood that Felix’s weird disposition is an integral part of the role. Although I think Khalil’s acting is fine, I would have liked to see a wider range of expression from him, especially during the quieter moments.

In one of his interviews, Petersen Vargas said that the message he hoped people would take away from the movie is that friendship is forever. I think this sentiment is most evidently delivered during the scene where Magnus sleeps over in Felix’s house. After that, admittedly, a handful of the latter scenes left me confused and bewildered. Some of them even made me squirm in my seat out of discomfort. However, in spite of the film’s unconventional methods and portrayals, the gravity of that pivotal scene manages to resonate until everything ties together in the ending. I guess, the tagline of 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten does deliver: you’ll never forget your first friend.

Highly, highly recommended film!

[ * Note: This film is a recipient of the Cinema One Originals 2016 Best Picture, Best Cinematography (Carlos Mauricio), and Best Supporting Actor (Jameson Blake) awards. ]

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Shealea

First of her name. Queen of millennials and the constantly caffeinated. Protector of books. Breaker of norms. Iskolar ng bayan.

13 thoughts on “Shealea reacts to: 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten (2016) – a film review”

  1. Great review! I’ve started a blog on Filipino film for a class (very much a work in progress) and I’ve been reading other blogs to get some inspiration.

    I’ve been meaning to watch this film for a while now but it hasn’t come to a cinema near me so I can only read about it! I’m really glad to see this film getting some good reviews, I’ve been rooting for it since the trailer.

    I was going into this thinking I’d be reading more about queer sexuality in PH culture but I’m glad to hear there are other important themes as well. Specifically, the colonialist mentality theme – the idea that speaking English is a “superior” trait is a cultural aspect I’m glad to see being addressed. Also I didn’t know the film would centre around the Mount Pinatubo eruption and I’m sure that adds another layer to the story.

    I hope to see this film when I come back to Manila, I actually want to see if I can get in on UP screenings of Filipino films because they don’t play many in my area of Manila

    Oh, and my father is actually Kapampangan, so I totally get what you mean about that the “h” in front of the “i” stereotype being debatable haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Wendell! Thank you very much for the insightful comment.

      Well, to be honest, the predominant theme of the film is sexuality. However, as someone with very limited knowledge in that area, I thought it’d be best to tackle other, more subtle themes as well. But anyway, there’s actually so much that can be taken from this film, especially during the parts that are rather unconventional and somewhat confusing. I encourage you to watch it for yourself! It’s a good film.

      Also, I haven’t written any film reviews for what feels like forever (as I don’t have much free time on my hands), but I’d love to see the blog you’re working on!

      Like

    1. Aww, thank you! 😊 It’s always fantastic to meet a new blogger. Starting a blog is a really wonderful experience, and experimenting keeps things interesting.

      I’ve already checked out your blog, and I gave it a follow. Looking forward to reading more of your stuff! Thanks for dropping by. 🌻

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I look like the author? Haha, sure thing! I hope you enjoy the book. I’m pretty sure Dawn Lanuza writes the same genre. I think she has a book entitled Break Up Anniversary, although I’ve yet to read it myself.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The most recent one I’ve read is Keep the Faith by Ana Tejano! The author is a Filipina. I don’t really read that genre, tbh. If you’re into poetry, Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey is pretty fantastic.

        Liked by 1 person

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