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‘Nasaan si Francis’ Film Review: Theatrical techno punk

With its relatively convincing cast and some animation to boost plot points in its drug addiction theme, “Nasaan si Francis?” creates a punk’s world with enough comedic proportion. A couple of animation inserts, various kinds of split screens and intercuts, play of colors and contrast, and visual exaggerations work at times, but in a few scenes, the too theatrical appeal could have been left within the stage.

Originally a play by its director Gabby Fernandez, “Nasaan si Francis?” is adapted from the Ilonggo material entitled “Diin na si Francis?” It features the story of people trying to satisfy their different needs and wants: money, love, and escape from the harsh realities of life.

A number of scenes in this yellow-toned movie turn out too verbose while trying to make up for it by presenting shot variations. At times, the blocking goes a bit too theatrical in a way that drags the narrative. Moreover, the sound seems a bit off with some missing elements and muted parts. Aside from some lacking sound elements, I have been personally bothered hearing too much rooster crows in the background, particularly in some scenes where Boy and Sonny are looking for pills. The time frame may be established to be around mid to late morning, but the rooster sounds become a bit too loud with no clear, solid intention to add to the storytelling. Minor continuity and/or cutting problems are apparent as well.

The techno-punk musical score and the drug addict’s kind of images being “high contrast and over-saturated” are justifiable. There are even some technically commendable, seemingly a bleach bypass effect (a visual effect done to the film’s negative during the film processing stage to push contrast to the extreme) in a few scenes, including the part where Christopher de leon goes to the drugstore high on ecstasy.

With a carabao as pawn, Boy (Paolo Contis) and Sonny (Rico Blanco) visit Francis to borrow money. Boy needs money to get his girlfriend (Tanya Garcia) out of the whorehouse, go to the province, and get married. Sonny needs money for his tuition fee. Francis insists of the offer to sell dozens of ecstasy tablets and let the two guys earn from them. Just before finally confirming the deal, Francis dies of cardiac arrest. Being in dire need of money, Boy and Sonny choose not to inform Francis’ family about his untimely death until they find the drugs. From this, the comedy about how Francis strolls around the house unnoticed as a dead body becomes the life of the story. At this point, the mere drag of too much dialogue gets slightly upstaged by the funny misadventures of Boy, Sonny, and Francis — the film’s main source of entertainment.

Rockers Rico Blanco and Karl Roy go side by side established actors Epi Quizon and Christopher de leon. Blanco as sidekick to Contis and Roy as a comic ornament generally performs well with his comic timing except in a few instances of looking quite conscious of being on cam. Roy effortlessly plays the hilarious role of Marmar, Francis’ junkie buddy who spends more time sleeping from fetal to fatal positions than being awake for his yosi break. Quizon is cool playing like a dead log – which seems more fun compared to his stoned scenes. Other members of the cast including Ricky Davao, Rita Avila, Angel Aquino, Julia Clarete, and Rio Locsin share fair contributions to the tale.

A friend of mine commented on this film claiming that it could possibly be a rip-off to a foreign film she and her brother saw in the 90’s. Though unable to remember the English-speaking film’s title and even any of the cast (they were kids back then), she told of a comedy where the dead body also strolls around like how Francis kept up in this movie. It could be simply be coincidental or this film could be paying homage to it.

The ending of this motion picture is similar with the Pinoy film “Big Time,” though this one is a little less absurd. It’s not the laugh-out-loud type of comedy, but more of comedic punk clearly meant for a particular audience.

Rianne Hill Soriano
Rianne is a director, writer, educator, and consultant in film and commercial productions. From mainstream essentials to independent flair, she knows the drill in making entertaining and well-meaning productions. She can lead a pack passionate about extreme action and technological edge; she can breathe an endearing and sentimental style for a team with a sweet disposition.

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