MMFF 2016 Review: Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2

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There are many times when a sequel is unnecessary. Usually, they’re used as a moneymaking scheme using familiar characters and a thin storyline to entice existing fans to fork over cash. Of course, there are good and necessary sequels. At first I thought Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2 was one of them.

Marlon Rivera’s Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2 sees the return of Eugene Domingo as Eugene Domingo, a larger-than-life actress who teams up again with Rainier (Kean Cipriano), an award-winning director. In the sequel, the filmmaker has written The Itinerary, a thinly-veiled portrayal of his crumbling marriage. Rainier is emotionally invested in the film, but Domingo has suggestions that go in the opposite direction.

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First off, Domingo is hilarious. I’ve always admired her as an actress and she easily pulls off the diva trope, rattling off suggestions to “improve” The Itinerary. The rest of the cast were great, too, especially Cai Cortez who finally speaks. Khalil Ramos was also funny even if he didn’t speak.

Like the original movie, Domingo, Rainier, producer Jocelyn (Cortez), and production assistant Lennon (Ramos) build The Itinerary per scene, with the scenes changing depending on Domingo and Rainier’s whim. I thought this was funny in the first film, but there weren’t enough scenes in the sequel. The few ones we saw were good, but they included many in the trailer that I only smiled when I saw it on the big screen.

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My biggest issue was that the film within Ang Babae Sa Septic  Tank 2 is different from Walang Wala, the film within the first film. There, Rainier and his crew (with JM de Guzman as producer Bingbong) satirized pre-production like finding the right actor and choosing the right acting method. I thought the sequel would focus on developing and fleshing out Walang Wala. That would have been fun.

While the first one satirized pre-prod life, the sequel touched on the mainstream vs. indie debate. Rainier’s version of The Itinerary is obviously “indie,” while Domingo wants to put a commercial touch to attract more audiences. In a scene that seems to echo the conundrum of the Metro Manila Film Festival’s (MMFF) mostly-indie lineup, the actress proclaims that “indie is dead,” and extols the merits of going commercial. I thought this part was clever, and I laughed out loud when Domingo shared her experience of meeting French actress Marion Cotillard.

Another issue I had was that there were too many gratuitous scenes that didn’t serve any purpose. Sure, Gui Adorno as Domingo’s assistant Facundo was eye candy, but I didn’t see the point of his appearance. The same goes for the scene with the theme song.

Of course, I shouldn’t be comparing both films. I should be judging Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2 on its own merits. It was an enjoyable watch, but isn’t as groundbreaking as the first. However, it’s possible that the things I didn’t like are part of the film’s commentary. What do I know? I’m just a writer.

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2 is one of the eight entries of the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival. The other seven films are Die Beautiful, Kabisera, OroSaving Sally, Seklusyon, Sunday Beauty Queen, and Vince & Kath & James. All films are screened in all cinemas nationwide, and will be screened until January 7, 2017.


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