Kawatan sa Salog ( A Toy in the River): Short Film Review

Synopsis: A mischievous child learns the value of time and life as he finds his way back home to his father.

For a short film, Kawatan sa Salog planned to tell quite an ambitious story. It tried to tackle the spiritual as well as the environmental issues in depicting the journey of a young boy who drowns in a river because of a discarded toy and wakes up to find himself in a purgatory of sorts where he must earn passage to return to his life and his father.

I wasn’t a big fan of the acting of the cast because apart from the elderly lady, the main character and his father, the rest of the cast seemed to recite their lines without a lot of emotions. The production was very low budget but it was somewhat justified by its explanation of receiving a huge amount of trash from the sea. But hey, these souls who are stuck in purgatory can sure recycle. Still, it was a weird concept to think that our trash would follow us to the afterlife.

I appreciated the message of redemption and wanting to atone for one’s sins. Apart from the child wanting to make things right for himself, he also wanted to make up for his irresponsible behavior towards nature. The film used the environment to explain the main lesson of the story, which was quite clever. Helping the grandmother cross over to the other side was a cheesy but acceptable addition, but I felt like the film was trying too much.

As the child was finally allowed to return to his life, finding and leaving the toy which was the main reason for his ordeal in the first place was a good way to solidify his reformed behavior. He no longer cared for the superficial. It would have been nice to see him reunited with is father, though.

Director Alphie Velasco’s Kawatan sa Salog succeeded in getting its message across but it lacked the whimsy that one normally expects in a film with a child as a main character. All in all, I guess that’s still the best compliment I can offer for this uncanny redemption piece.