The indie cinema outfit in the Philippines is growing, and more patrons are craving to get a taste of something new. One of the best in the industry today, Petersen Vargas, a Kapampangan native, has previously revealed to us his signature talent in filmmaking by combining artistry with mood through his short films. Those hypnotic elements that he is so keen on collide in his debut film 2 Cool 2 Be 4Gotten – erupting with so much youth and depth that will make you see why Vargas is one to look out for. This fresh take that is confidently one-of-a-kind to say the least, contains relevant themes that make it deceptive and beautiful. What you will see is something more than just your regular coming of age story, and it sticks with you as it makes you feel things that you’ve never felt before in a film like it.
It’s bigger than that, and yet, it feels personal at the same time. The inner conflicts endured and faced by the main character portrayed by Khalil Ramos widens the narrative scope, and nudges various ideas that makes the film to appear much deeper than it looks on the surface. Leaning towards the LGBT-side of the film, the discoveries of one’s own identity is a remarkable feat accomplished by Ramos. He is a stunning curiosity that you’d want to explore from time to time, and his acting takes you there completely. Watching the film, it feels as if you’re sitting right beside him, discerning everything that goes on in his mind – making you relate to almost everything that happens to him, strengthening the transcendental seams that unites viewers and film.
It isn’t afraid to go deeper and dwell darker – a recurring theme aimed specifically at the Filipinos sending a message that has resonated throughout history is effectively divulged even if there are so many things going on, and it brings out a distinct Kapampangan flavor that will have you thirsting for more of its intellect coated with entrancing colors. Director Petersen Vargas and writer Jason Paul Laxama fuse their geniuses together to form a mold that is ideal; a winning formula that combines mesmerizing aesthetics with subtle storytelling. Vargas lets loose his conscious, and provides us with an artful direction that hook us from our seats and hurl us right into the film, while Laxamana releases his frustrations about a certain topic that our people fail to understand in a way that is intense, vibrant, and brooding all at the same time. Mastery of tone-balancing is clearly present here, and it is a huge achievement that the film completely acknowledges and utilizes to the maximum. Music and visuals meet halfway, and lead us to the heart of the film bleached in colors both bright and gloomy. It is one of the best assets that is laid and spread out, and it unfailingly attracts the eyes of the aesthetically-inclined.
Stylish filmmaking is definitely at bay, but the surreal touch to it emits vibes that you won’t feel anywhere else but here – unleashing adhesive mysteries; latching onto your body and soul as it dissolves into remnants that you can’t shrug off anytime soon. There’s just so many going on in it, yet it doesn’t overbear as things are kept small but edgy. It could amble around in different places, but is rather slight in being exploratory. It never gets comfortable in the bolder territories that it takes a peek at, yet it doesn’t leave anything much to desire for either when it comes to wanting more of what it should’ve led itself to. Progressive in nature thematically and jumping back and forth between the gloom and light that grows in both Magnus and Maxim, the enigmas arising in them, and into the film, competently makes us want to decode its cryptic allure. You’re not sure of what’s really going on, but then again, the uncertainties are just infallible in emblazoning our minds with what’s visible, unwritten, and unforgettable. Starting the film off is an odd if not moody introduction to Khalil Ramos’ Felix, and if it can’t set the mood right and in perfection, then I don’t know what will. It’s already a signal that you’ve stepped into a film that is unpredictable and mildly wild where its brain is not sure of what direction to take – contributing to several reasons as to why it’s hard not to champion this film as another warm welcome into the future of Filipino cinema.
Vargas brings out the potential that slumbers in the actors, and it is truly remarkable seeing that, he triumphed albeit not completely. Khalil Ramos is identifiable, but a weird wonder nonetheless that blooms and rakes us in with his mawkishness. Whether it’s walking around hallways, staring aimlessly, or thinking out loud, he always ceases to make us not feel something about his character in some way. He feels affection, desire, and agony, and we feel the same things too as he exerts great effort in grabbing us to stand right beside him, and tag us along for this journey. There is intimacy glaring between his interaction with Ethan Salvador, and it is simply too beautiful to not cherish. Astoundingly, Salvador as Magnus is magnetizing with what he brings. He isn’t just a pretty face that you’d fall for much like Ramos’ Felix does. His character has layers topped over layers, and what you didn’t expect him to be is exactly what will get you stunned with as he develops over time in a fashion that will have you endeared and baffled – leading to further astonishment which all the more makes his portrayal appear to be as good, if not better as his ravishing looks.
Opposing his wondrous appeal is Jameson Blake’s Maxim Snyder who, plays a great character – if only the film had extracted more out of him. Unlike Magnus, his characterization is flat, and quite disappointing. So much could’ve been done with him (some of which might have given the film a little more teeth to bite), yet his constant brooding that he sticks to doesn’t do anything to intimidate nor terrify — except for one scene that haunts with the melding of social commentary and Blake’s close-to-deadpan acting. All owed to his stiffness that fails to “make it hard”, the significant theme concerning foreigners taking advantage of our vulnerabilities is almost hindered but thankfully, not completely drained out. His character could’ve brought all that out, but there he went, and opted to just be the bad Americano and nothing more. He may be one of the film’s minor flaws, but he makes a rather marginal impact on the strong and mind-opening notions that strolls around the field. In good grace though, his one-dimensional persona didn’t squash the distinctive agendas concerning our recognizance over our own nation’s flaws when it comes to foreigners.
With a indie hit that could cross over the mainstream and embrace both audiences warmly, the face of Filipino cinema is getting revitalized every day thanks to fresh filmmakers like Petersen Vargas who has more to offer to the industry as clearly evidenced by this craft of promising brilliance with world-class relishes. 2 Cool 2 Be 4Gotten is exactly what its title makes it out to be; a coolly-refined, unforgettable masterpiece that earns our affection entirely. With that, we expect to get more of where all this came from in future projects that might just take us, and this filmmaker to plateaus that relieves the state of our films of today. The youth needs Petersen Vargas, and he is definitely here to stay and move us with his fashionable cinematic presence.
- 2 Cool 2 Be 4Gotten is still playing at Cinema 76 Film Society located at
160 Luna Mencias St. Brgy. Addition Hills, San Juan 1600, San Juan Del Monte City, Philippines. Rated R-18 by the MTRCB.