by Pablo A. Tariman
Erik Matti’s A Girl & A Guy has many things going for it.
It is an unconventional look at the lifestyle among the Gen Z generation that for some reason remains a mystery to many.
There is a Gen Z series on TV5 that offers stories for enlightenment but they ended with more questions than answers for the curious Baby Boomers.
To be sure, we had our share of syrupy millennial romances on film and television but they end up as chocolates destined to be consumed without thinking.
Here comes Matti’s A Girl & A Guy and suddenly you realize this is not one film you can just set aside.
It is not your kind of rom-com, the actors are not easily recognizable but it has a kind of daring that goes beyond flesh exposures.
Initially, it might come as a shock to Baby Boomers (born) but they might as well finish the film to its unpredictable ending.
Here are tidbits on Gen Z as they apply to native shores.
A research group describes Generation Z as passionate and ambitious individuals. They are also known as the true digital natives with 68 per cent of Filipino Gen Zers confident in their tech-savviness.
Another finding: Gen Zers aren’t scared to celebrate their individuality and appear to be more realistic and career-minded compared to millennials.
For the record, millennials witnessed the death of pagers and the rise of smartphones. More studies show that Filipino Gen Zers are the most confident when it comes to their tech-savviness (68%) compared to their SE Asia and global counterparts at 62% and 52% respectively.
Based on latest statistics, millennials (aged 21 to 28) and Gen Z (aged zero to 20) constitute around 70 percent of the country’s population. In between these two groups are some 40 million Gen Z Filipinos which comprise the biggest segment of the country’s population as of February 8, 2021.
For purposes of the story of this film, Matti singled out scenarios from the life of Gen Z young adults “navigating the tricky world of relationships, connections, and intimacy in today’s society.”
And what a journey to complicated relationships they were!
Rob Gomez plunges into production work like a real pro but some co-workers were lusting after him. He accepts them as they come but after all the endless doses of sensuality, he remains lost and unable to find his anchor.
Mira as the promising filmmaker is almost hooked into marriage as backdrop of her career. But she didn’t want a marriage trap top find himself as a filmmaker.
Through all these navigations, you see sex galore in every possible frame.
To be fair to the cast, they are natural actors who make stripping as normal as going to sleep and taking breakfast.
It is towards the end that you realize nudity isn’t the film’s excuse for being.
True, it yields a lot of flesh but in the process, you find those little ounces of insight that made the daring scenes justified.
Gomez is a good find and with more honing, he can evolve into an actor he wants to be. There is moving contrasts in his characterization from the lust-obsessed young man into the normal dog lover he really is.
There is tight and commendable ensemble acting other members of the cast like Pau Benitez, Candice Ramos, Rosh Barman, Sarah Holmes, Carlo Tarobal, Emilio Francisco, Chloe Reyes, Roeder Camanag, Donna Cariaga, Marina Benipayo, Yvonne Evangelista, and Shaun Salvador.
A question may be asked: were those graphic nudities necessary?
For this cineaste, yes, they are.
But they were used to lead us into a labyrinth of sensuality and how Gen Zers live it.
They are daring and they are honest.
Matti (Seklusyon, On The Job, In The Name of the Father) certainly has made something of his craft that is in a class by itself.
On the whole, A Girl & A Guy, is a luminous exploration of the Gen Zers’ lives.
It is not easily digestible but from the many chapters touched, a Gen Zer’s life is not as simple as that.
In the film, you absorb their lifestyles, you absorb their music, you accept their sensuality but towards the end, you take note of the masterful direction and realize you have just watched a good piece of unforgettable cinema.
Pointed out Matti: ““Social media has made us all film critics. I want people to give this a chance. Those who don’t understand this generation should really be the ones watching it. Because it’s best that you know who you’re dealing with.”
The director added that contrary to perception, Gen Zers are really responsible people. “You’d feel for them. You’ll respect how confused they are. And more than them understanding themselves, I think everyone else who has a set of principles and scruples should also give this movie a chance.”
(A Girl + A Guy is now available for streaming on UPSTREAM starting June 24, 2021. Reserve a ticket via GMovies.)