At first glance, Camp Sawi is yet another movie that jumps into the #hugot bandwagon and taps into the psyche of women who have suffered from heartbreak. I must admit that I was initially apprehensive about seeing the movie because the market has been saturated by similar types of films. At the end of it, I was content with the outcome without feeling the need to gag from excessive cliches.
Camp Sawi revolves around five women — Bridgitte (Bela Padilla), who was dumped by her Chinese boyfriend after 10 years because of she wasn’t Chinese; Gwen (Arci Munoz) who was dumped by her rocker boyfriend just because he wanted to move on with someone else; Jessica (Yassi Pressman), a cheerleader who finds out that her jock of a boyfriend actually wants to be with another guy; Joanne (Kim Molina) who loses her boyfriend to a freak accident immediately after they get engaged, and Clarisse (Andi Eigenmann), a successful career woman who is seeing an older married man in secret. They sign up for Camp Sawi, run by camp master Louie (Sam Milby) to find peace and move on.
When I first saw the trailer of this movie, it was implied that the five women will enter camp only to find themselves entangled in another romantic conflict involving the camp master. I’m glad that script and the direction (both by Irene Villamor) didn’t go down this route and instead focused on the women’s journeys to get over their heartbreaks and find themselves in the process.
I liked that the film took the time to establish the different characters and their individual plights — to tell each of their stories, although obviously, there were stories that were more highlighted than the others.
The cast was pretty strong and likeable, but the standout was Gwen (Arci) who really shone with her excellent comedic timing and her portrayal of such a likeable character. I liked the other cat members’ performances as well. Yassi, while her character was bright and bubbly 80 percent of the time, also pulled off the dramatic journey of Jessica when the scene commanded it. Bela Padilla took a large portion of the movie but the manner in which she played her character was very chill and releateable and the women in the audience could identify with her.
I liked Kim Molina’s character as well although it was dark and broody. I had a little bit of trouble warming up to Clarisse though, and felt that Andi underplayed the character. Clarisse’s calmness felt out of place in camp full of animated women and I felt like she was holding back the whole time in order to deliver the dramatics at the end, much like a singer who starts out with a super low key in order to reach the high notes at the end. However, in doing so, I never quite identified with her character and felt that there was something missing even after her big moment was over.
I liked that the secondary characters were not just in the movie for comic relief because they too, raised very valid points and suffered through (in my opinion) even deeper heartbreak especially because unlike the main cast, they were not super pretty and sexy.
There were times that I felt like the film highlighted the physical assets of the main cast too much, making sure that they were always garbed in short shorts or bikinis (although I admit that I hardly expect them to wear long pants and long sleeves in a beach setting). There were also excessively long montages that went through the entire song that I felt were a bit too lengthy although the song choices were good and fitting for the situations.
While the film was able to portray the women’s heartbreak extensively, and achieved balancing out the lightness and the heaviness of going through a breakup, I would have appreciated it if the filmmakers followed through on the opening for Louie’s story to even out the film with a male perspective of heartbreak. Let’s face it, girls don’t have the monopoly on broken hearts.
All in all, Camp Sawi was a good film although I think the audience’s appreciation for the film is commensurate to the amount of heartbreak and hugot they have experienced in their personal lives. The film raises a lot of valid points from a woman’s perspective and inspires women empowerment but is sadly unfair to the male population as it does not represent their views at all in order to emphasize the female characters’ pain and suffering. While I am part of the female population and appreciate the goal of the story to uplift women, I just felt that the message was a tad lopsided and divisive. Kudos to the cinematography and direction though.