Philippine Science

"Philippine Science" is a fictionalized alma-mater flashback that's blandly nostalgic despite the Marcos regime's stormy death throes as a backdrop.

With:
With: Elijah Castillo, Gammy Lopez, Annicka Dolonius, Carl John Barrameda, Shayne Fajutagana, Jonathan Neri, EJ Jallorina, Alfred Alain Labatos, Arnold Reyes, Wena Basco, Eugene Domingo, Amable Quiambao, Bernardo Bernardo.

Duly commissioned and bankrolled — if the endless closing credit-crawl is any indication — by the real-life class of 1986, “Philippine Science” is a fictionalized alma-mater flashback that’s blandly nostalgic despite the Marcos regime’s stormy death throes as a backdrop. Latest pic by Auraeus Solito (“The Blossoming of Maxim Olives,” “Tuli”) is too episodic and lacking in interpersonal conflict. But as a hymn to the virtues of education a la “Dead Poets Society,” it’s a pleasant-enough bit of positive reinforcement. Offshore play will be limited to Asian fests and sidebars, plus DVD sales in Filipino-emigre territories.

Stellar test scores gain the nation’s best and brightest (at least in math & science) entree to Philippine Science High School. After a “quiz bee” prologue, the pic finds the freshman class of 1982 variably adjusting to its challenging academic and social environs. Romantic pull between rich girl Wena (Gammy Lopez) and scholarship student Rom (Elijah Castillo) looks like it will ballast the narrative. But the feature shifts to new central characters with each succeeding scholastic year, somewhat dissipating emotional involvement. Political context is kept mostly backgrounded and lightweight. Perfs are likable; packaging is pro.

Philippine Science

Production: A Cinemalaya presentation of a Solito Arts production in association with Roadrunner Network. Produced by Auraeus Solito. Executive producers, Paul Morales, Henry Grageda. Directed by Auraeus Solito. Screenplay, Henry Grageda, from a story by Solito.

Crew: Camera (color, DigiBeta), Charlie Peralta; editors, Kanakan Balintagos, Mikael Pestano; music, Vince de Jesus, Jobin Ballesteros; production designers, Martin Masadao, Regie Regaldo, Dante Garcia, Endi "Hai" Balbuena. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 11, 2007. English and Tagalog dialogue. Running time: 118 MIN.

With: With: Elijah Castillo, Gammy Lopez, Annicka Dolonius, Carl John Barrameda, Shayne Fajutagana, Jonathan Neri, EJ Jallorina, Alfred Alain Labatos, Arnold Reyes, Wena Basco, Eugene Domingo, Amable Quiambao, Bernardo Bernardo.

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