The society of respected film critics that hands out the annual Gawad Urian in cinematic excellence

Noy: The Documentary and the Narrative at a Disjuncture that Works

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By Gigi Javier Alfonso

Noy is a film well-directed by Dondon Santos and released by Star Cinema. Here is a film that is a documentary within a narrative. The contrast and the disjuncture of the two genres, that of the documentary for television with jerky and almost technically violent footage, and that of the melodramatic, sleek narrative meshed together. Its message is in its form. A narrative with its Act I, introduces the characters, Act II, the body with all the details of the characters, the conflict presented and climaxing with the brothers drug involvement and Act III, the resolution of either the death or the satisfying future of the protagonist.

On the other hand, the documentary, where there is taking of the beat of the subject matter (and in this case, the hope for a better government presented by a presidential hopeful promising a bright future) has not moved on together with the film’s narrative. It does not lead to a climax nor does it bring forth a resolution because there isn’t any. The film talks of the two not reconciling because the story of the politician’s promise remains a question mark, unresolved, and may not be the answer to the question of poverty, alienation and deprivation. All it promises is a glimpse of hope… and everything else is for the people to chart their own destiny… and in the story, for the protagonist and all other Filipinos like Noy to take the responsibility in bettering their lives and not relying on the promises of politicians that may never come true.

Noy is the story of Manolo Agapito, Noy for short. He is the breadwinner of his family. He tries to get by with determined ambition but is under-qualified for the work he seeks for. There are certainly plenty of opportunities for some misrepresentation or even premeditated disinformation on his part in his journey in seeking for a job. He however manages to land as a broadcast journalist. He is assigned to produce a TV documentary on the Philippine presidential elections. He is supposed to closely follow presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino III on his campaign trail, a man who in his publicized campaign is crying out for truth, promising to eliminate corruption. Noy like Noynoy are both hoping for a better future. To Noy, the whole idea of making the TV documentary is a possible way to get close to Noynoy.

Noy does not see that having a leader who seeks good governance is a direct benefit to him. This does not compute in the scenario of his future life. The influential leader, in his view, is a way out of poverty and his family’s harsh everyday condition through some favors creating fast money, perhaps even dole-outs… or some bigger job. Back to the film’s form and performances of actors, there is that strong discrepancy in style and approach of the docu-footage and that of the narrative of Noy, the character convincingly performed by Coco Martin.

The melodramatic tone is borne out by presenting the Agapito family’s inability to individually cope with their problems. His mother, Cherry Pie Picache, an actress who always dishes out effective and admirable performances, falls into trouble with her foreigner boyfriend. His physically challenged brother, Bong, ably performed by Joem Bascon, though in a wheelchair gets entangled with the vicious drug syndicate. His young sister, Tata, played by Cheska Billiones, is going blind because of juvenile diabetes and his girlfriend, Divine (Erich Gonzales) plays the stable friend and lover. Supporting actors Vice Ganda as Jane and Baron Geisler as Caloy, the video editor, are bridging characters from the documentary to the narrative. They try to make sense of the coming in of the footage of the Aquino campaign, with images of Noynoy Aquino, Kris Aquino, and Baby James. When we realize that the almost pretentious and almost senseless footage connecting to the narrative is the disjuncture in the film and in life…that makes sense.