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Saving Sally – More than just a breakthrough in Philippine animation

REVIEW | Saving Sally (2016)

The real gem of the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival, Rocketsheep’s enthrallingly heartwarming, visually arresting live action-cum-animated feature “Saving Sally,” has been available on iWant.ph and Netflix.

Philippine Animation - The world of "Saving Sally" courtesy of Rocketsheep Studio
The world of “Saving Sally” courtesy of Rocketsheep Studio

Reputedly 10 years in the making, this mostly English-language opus won only two awards at the MMFF but managed to pick up over 15 international filmfest laurels as it made the rounds overseas and earn the distinction of being the only 2016 MMFF entry whose director, Avid Liongoren, was nominated for the Gawad Urian of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino.

More than just a breakthrough in Philippine animation, “Saving Sally” is also one of the most emotionally indelible rom-coms, local or foreign, that you’ll probably get to see.

It’s a simple story; geeky, aspiring comic artist Marty (Enzo Marcos) realizes he’s in love with his equally nerdy inventor-best friend and classmate Sally, played with feisty, charming quirkiness by Rhian Ramos, but he lacks the guts to tell her, expressing his desire through his illustrations and soaring, colorful imagination.

When he finally musters the courage to open up, in comes obnoxious and dense jock toughie Nick (TJ Trinidad) who makes Sally his girlfriend, relegating Marty to the friendzone and the pathetic role of go-between who delivers to Sally Nick’s crude messages of love with his own embellishments.

Meanwhile, Sally has her own problems with physically abusive foster parents (Archie Adamos and Sharmaine Buencamino) who limit her movements out of the house, depicted as a forbidding, beast-dwelling mansion on a hill.

Vibrant with images reminiscent of the illustrated classic book “The Little Prince, ” the film unfolds mainly from Marty’s point of view as he sees his surroundings as a dreary urban jungle and people he dislikes as monsters or barely disguised phalluses. Look for Kuya Bodjie Pascua as a Tamiya fanatic, and Carmen Sanchez as an overweight and overprotective mama, who play Marty’s sympathetic parents in contrast to Sally’s.

Ramos and Marcos display marvelous chemistry, making you truly care for them. Some choice scenes include the swirling confusion and bewilderment that follow when Sally accidentally uncovers Marty’s numerous portraits of her, a determined Marty taking off like a rocket ship to Sally’s house and a touching planetary parable narrated by Marty in a post-credit sequence. The music, composed of original and borrowed songs and scores, ranges from engagingly melancholic to infectiously cheerful, and enhances much of the film.

“Saving Sally” is a once-in-a-blue-moon cinematic experience and an ultimately inspiring emotional voyage as well. Not to be missed.

5 out of 5 stars

*If you are still looking for movies to stream, visit Cinema Centenario’s official online screening platform – MOOV. We made some films available for free viewing.

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