‘Indak’ review: All the wrong steps
The most ironic thing about Paul Alexei Basinillo’s Indak is that while it's a film about dance, it never fully figures out its soul and rhythm. It jumps from one heavily-choreographed dance sequence to another with the flimsiest of storylines to connect the dancing dots.
Island girl, big dreams
Jen (Nadine Lustre), an island girl with big dreams, suddenly becomes popular because a video of her dancing alone on her boat in the middle of the sea goes viral. She is then recruited by Vin (Sam Concepcion), head of Indak Pinas, to join his dance troupe and compete in a dance tournament in Seoul.
At first hesitant, she is convinced by her sickly mother (Yayo Aguila) to fulfil her dreams. She travels to Manila with Vin to get ready for the competition.
The plot is thin, which isn’t the problem.
Despite the sparseness in anything happening in the film, Basinillo still finds himself unable to tell the story with seamlessness to make its emotional pulls truly affecting. If the characters aren’t dancing or awkwardly lip-synching to second-rate pop songs, they are busy with the most mundane of issues.
Everything is focused on the group making it to Seoul and encountering the most routine of problems along the way – including Jen being unwelcomed by the rest of the dance troupe, or the group coming together to collect money for the trip. (READ: How 'Indak' is different from 'Step Up')
The film is begging for more compelling characterizations. It hungers for motivations that are beyond yearnings for recognition that have become so stereotypical within the genre. While there is seems to be romance also brewing between Jen and Vin, the film fails to commit to it. In fact, what the film badly needs is just a real and properly-relayed conflict.
Very little emotional heft
Indak’s many dance scenes are shot either lousily or with convenience in mind – which is very unfortunate, since the film has surrendered a sound narrative for a bevy of musical numbers.
The dances are static and bereft of any real spectacle. When a stunt does happen, Basinillo pulls out the oldest trick in the bag which is to highlight the supposedly difficult move with dramatic slow motion. The dance numbers are over-edited to the detriment of the choreography and the effort of the dancers whose skills are unfairly overpowered by useless cinematic razzle-dazzle.
What is most frustrating about Indak is that its numerous numbers have very little emotional heft.
There is absolutely no impact to whatever the film tries to convey about its characters’ pangs and hesitations. Lustre, who manages to shine a bit of passion in her otherwise cardboard-cutout heroine, struggles to project an equivalent emotionality when dancing. There seems to be a difficulty in connecting her being an actress and being a performer, resulting in a very stilted development of her character’s arc.
No beat or rhythm
There is just no beat or rhythm in Indak.
It lacks enthusiasm, verve, and more importantly, substance. It is utterly disposable. — Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.
Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.