Thursday, 21 July 2016

REVIEW - NED'S PROJECT (LEMUEL LORCA)


It's easy to see how a film so slight as Ned's Project could be pulled up, or dragged down by the slightest of shifts. The film is compassionate, to its benefit, and tasteful, to a fault; it's a gentle, sensitive, somewhat soapy drama, content enough in its adequacy that it seems not to even care to court such a shift, thus allowing for one accidental shift upward, and at least two downward. You, the viewer, might not be so content, begging for a meaningful change in tone or topic, albeit appreciative of the film's lulling simplicity, only to find yourself appalled at the eventual choice of change. A crucial plot development in the final act marks a major misjudgement, one that virtually nullifies the impact of other, more mildly problematic points in the depiction of the LGBT lifestyle, itself excusable given the national context. Ned's Project is a wholly inoffensive film until it lands a most offensive blow. That and a chintzy, intrusive score make for regrettable shifts downward; lifting the film back up, from first moment to last, is Angeli Bayani and her superb performance. This is the kind of work that earns legendary status in the right circumstances, and rightfully so; it's the perfect synergy of elements, from Bayani's incisive understanding of character, to her commitment to emotional expressiveness, to her absolute physical embodiment, to her resolute adherence to naturalism even with the more intense material. As tepid as the film around her may be, and as toxic as it may become, Bayani alone elevates Ned's Project and makes of it a genuinely worthwhile watch. Alas, in almost every other regard, this film requires a great deal more elevation to come even close to matching her.