Instead of poking fun of the brokenhearted, ‘Camp Sawi’ highlights the tough process of moving on.
Despite tackling the run-of-the-mill subject of romantic pain and healing, Camp Sawi offers a fresh and unique take on how it should be done.
Helmed by Irene Villamor for Joyce Bernal Production and N2, Camp Sawi is the fictional island refuge for the lonely and the brokenhearted that are raring to rediscover themselves and start anew.
Instead of finding new love in order to replace the hole left in their hearts by their exes, Bridgette (Bela Padilla), Gwen (Arci Muñoz), Clarisse (Andi Eigenmann), Jessica (Yassi Pressman), and Joan (Kim Molina) go into voluntary exile to Camp Sawi.
The imaginary camp was set in picturesque Bantayan Island in Cebu where the five women had the chance to frolic and get disconnected from the world in order to face what’s really cutting deep into their hearts with the help of their camp master (Sam Milby).
All five faced different yet somehow familiar types of heartbreaks that many can surely identify with, especially since there are a number of “hugot loving” and “hopeless romantic” Filipino audience.
While the film’s concept in itself was interesting enough, which Bela and her longtime boyfriend Neil Arce created, what made it stand out was its treatment and cinematography. The lead stars’ backstories were told through logically sequenced flashbacks, in the sense that it did not look “forced” or just plain routine.
Direk Irene also made good use of the five ladies’ acting strengths, which balanced out the fun and the heartrending moments. Bela and Andi were a tag team who added the contrasting kind of drama: understated for the latter and heavy drama for the former, which also went well with their characters’ respective storylines.
Arci, Kim, and Yassi, meanwhile, gave the film’s necessary comic relief with their colorful and loud characters. Of the many memorable scenes though, Bela and Arci’s seaside drunken scene, as well as the ladies’ videoke moment, are definitely among the film’s highlights.
Even though the film’s trailer somehow insinuated that it would poke fun of the process of moving on, especially the film’s poster with the ladies in straitjackets, the film did otherwise.
While the movie includes the crazy moments of a broken girl including drunken outbursts, sudden breakdowns, complete reclusiveness or utter denial, it made sure not to disrespect the process by going against what the usual movies and stories tell—moving on is an uncertain process.
There were a few questions that went unanswered like the story behind the camp’s creation but it didn’t matter as much because after all the film is about the camp’s purpose.
In the end, the film captivates because it shows that broken heartedness is neither a cliché nor a laughing matter. The film shows that despite the resolve to rebuild oneself and sometimes even with help from people in the same situation, it can be difficult to move on. But the film’s biggest strength really is the way in which it ably takes the audience back to their first heartbreak by giving them a character or to relate to.