Irene Emma Villamor’s “Sid & Aya: Not A Love Story” is anything but your usual love-themed movie. It’s something like along the lines of “Kita Kita” that improves on the existing niche of their respective genres. So the quintessential question is, “Should you watch?”
First stop, you already have two big names on the screen. Dingdong Dantes is “Sid” and Anne Curtis acts as “Aya”, so securing a viewership might not be so much of a challenge. So here’s the story:
Sid is a successful stockbroker by day and, although committed in a way, a ladies’ man by night. He suffers from insomnia, the cause of which is unknown. His sleepless nights lead him to a hilarious meeting with Aya, ‘a strong, independent, no-frills’ woman.
Sid asks Aya if she can transact her time with him and thus began their nocturnal sessions across bars, amusement parks, and parking lots full of talks about “bulls” and life. At such times, the troubled, jerk-of-a-man that is Sid is stripped off of his grimy layers and reveals the tenderness of man, all too lonely and hurting. And then there’s Aya whose smiles and happy-go-lucky feels can only go as far as her vulnerabilities are revealed; tough on the outside but sensitive on the inside.
But in this world of loneliness and twisted feelings, how far can one keep him/herself safe and unhurt in the whirlpool of uncertain feelings? And so we follow Sid and Aya from the neon-lighted spaces of BGC to the leisure places of Tokyo in a story filled with what-can-be, devoid of hows and whys.
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The purple neon-lighted scenes remind one of “Blade Runner 2019”, most of all of Wong Kar-wai’s films. The hits and misses of the characters’ meetings are almost like those in “Love, Rosie”. Sid’s character of the successful but restless and lonely bachelor aptly catches the melancholia and disjointedness of the urban, postmodern life. The particularly physically mature portrayal by Dingdong Dantes helped further to accentuate the sense of aloneness and longing for respite and a constant human presence. Aya’s character, on the other hand, reveals the struggles of a young breadwinner, a juggler of multiple jobs, and an aspirant of success abroad.
So this is really not a love story?
The film allows a free hand to the viewer whether to interpret it as such or not. But the elements of the usual romantic story are there: the serendipity of the unexpected meeting, the thrills and feels of casual encounters, the kilig moments of words, and the climax of confessions and confrontations.
But what makes “Sid & Aya” not one of the “usuals” is that it disarmingly allows you to build expectations, only for the film to have them overturned in such a short notice and then you build up your assumptions again, and then watch them fall under the waves of a divergent story-telling.
You’ll only have eyes on Sid and Aya all throughout and it makes you feel they’ve known each other for such a long time. This is a situation which is quite like in real life where the suddenness of chance encounters and the weight of emotions they entail actually create an illusion of familiarity. It’s also a good thing that it’s not a damsel-in-distress sort of story. If a guy can play, why not a lady, and a better one at that! Plus women are strong; they can save themselves even without men.
Are there lessons we can learn? There are a few.
First, seriously, don’t play with feelings. Especially if you’re broken badly by life and all its shit, don’t engage with someone who’s free and there you are acting as if you got some license to wreak emotional havoc on others just so because you need to get through insomnia, depression, or what have you. Don’t meet people and go around spreading unnecessary pain and hate just because you feel like shit.
Second, you’re not Aya and Sid in real life. It’s tempting to project ourselves in every scene especially when it brings the hope of getting reunited in the most unexpected of ways or meeting love in a stylized sort of way, but this idealized expectation set by romantic love is simply not healthy. We cannot allow ourselves to be dictated by picture-perfect movie scenes. Again: keep your hopes high and your expectations low. And keep it real, people. Get rid of your romantic illusions and delusions.
Third, if Love is real, it finds a way.
So is Aya a figment of Sid’s imagination? I guess you better watch the film.
So if you have extra time and money to spend, go out and watch “Sid & Aya: Not A Love Story”. And while you’re at it, go also watch one of the finest Philippine films of the century, Lav Diaz’s “Ang Panahon ng Halimaw”, a timely and timeless work of art and history that demands to be seen and heard.