Apocalypse Child is a film about Ford, an experienced surfing instructor who has always been told his father was Francis Ford Coppola. Yes, the Francis Ford Coppola, who directed Apocalypse Now in the Philippines.
The characters weave through a web of connectivity in the myths they have created around one another, using these lies and half-truths to maintain relationships and a stable, but acceptably unrealistic, lifestyle. Every interaction between the actors feels as genuine as if you were watching a documentary, and the impression is given that this is more an insight into the lives of islanders on the Philippines than actors in a film.
There are two standout stars of Apocalypse Child. The first is the legend of the Philippines itself. What is true and what is a lie? We hear plenty of myths weaved throughout the narrative, but as an audience we learn it’s more important to tell ourselves these half-truths in order to maintain more peaceful and happy lives. The location and ease of the actors in the film allow this dreamlike idyllic way of living to permeate throughout the film in a sense that wouldn’t be possible if it was shot in Vietnam or England. The second star is Annicka Dolonius, with her character Fiona showing a constant arc of progression throughout the film. This growth in the performance of the actress is what elevates Apocalypse Child from a film that not only stands out, but is truly memorable for characters that feel like real people.
Apocalypse Child is one of those rare beauties where narrative plays second fiddle to a combination of perfect locations and character: stunning vistas of Baler, mystical half-tales of the past, emotional revelations and jaw-droppingly realistic character portrayals. This work of director Mario Cornejo may be his best film yet.
CAST: Ana Abad-Santos, Archie Alemania, R.K. Bagatsing, Annicka Dolonius
DIRECTOR: Mario Cornejo
WRITERS: Mario Cornejo, Monster Jimenez
SYNOPSIS: Ford, a surfing instructor from the Philippines, has been told his whole life that he’s the son of Francis Ford Coppola. He’s wasted his youth waiting as his mother petitions the director to acknowledge Ford as his son. But as the surfing season ends, he’s forced to confront his past actions, inactions, and the stories of his life.