Text and Photos by Euden Valdez
TO be fair, “Requited”—a full-length entry at the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival 2017—had potential. Its theme was never before seen at the Cultural Center of the Philippines main theater: cycling and then finding love along the way.
Directed, written and produced by Nerissa Picadizo, “Requited” stars actor Jake Cuena alongside newcomer Anna Luna. Cuenca portrays Matt, a cyclist on a journey from Manila to Mt. Pinatubo via Tarlac in what appeared to be his epilogue to life. He is, after all, suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Then comes Luna as Sandy, his best friend who joins him along the way.
They had good times on the road, and they had bad times—mostly bad times. Because despite their obvious feelings, they can’t love each other. They have too many complications.
What would have been an interesting formula turned out to be a dragging experience. And worse, it was not because of its narrative but because of its flaws.
Although this author has not seen foreign cycling/biking films for comparison, “Requited” still felt as if there was too much cycling in it. In the beginning, it was good to see Cuenca in action for he was a natural. Even in pain, he was a natural. Later on, it got boring even when Matt and Sandy entered the countryside where the surrounding was supposed to be scenic.
The fault here lies in the coloring. Viewers would have appreciated the cinematography better if it wasn’t too saturated. (I don’t know why but indie filmmakers these days always filter their films as if it was Instagram.)
There’s also an issue with the audio. Dialogues, particularly Luna’s high-pitched voice, and noises, like the pedaling, were too loud to the point of distraction.
And perhaps, the film was dragging because it took so long to build up—as long as the ride from Manila to Mt. Pinatubo. It has become a test of endurance watching.
Is it worth finishing? Thankfully yes because the last 10 minutes or so is when your emotions will be stirred. Prepare yourself.
If there’s one thing commendable about the film, it’s the perseverance of filmmaker Picadizo who finally debuted at this year’s Cinemalaya. She has over a decade of extensive experience working in various film, television, events and theater productions. Her works include “Stressful X,” “Astray,” “The Solar Champion,” and “Mga Anino sa Tanghaling Tapat.”
At her film’s gala screening on Tuesday, August 8, she told the CCP audience that “Requited” was more than just a passion project. It was a test of faith because it took her three years—on and off—to finish.
Nevertheless, she persevered and moreover, as writer, director and producer all at once. For this, we give her credit.