Kiddie Pool Shallow
by Don Jaucian

Sosy Problems (2012)
D: Andoy Ranay
S: Solenn Heusaff, Heart Evangelista, Bianca King, Rhian Ramos, Ruffa Gutierrez, Tim Yap, Cherie Gil, Agot Isidro, Bea Binene, Mylene Dizon, Aljur Abrenica

There are a lot of things that come into play when you consider Sosy Problems’s intentions. It knows that it’s silly, it exaggerates things so that everything in its world of make-believe can fall into place, and it’s smart enough to know that it’s running on a ridiculous storyline. To put some sort of a humanist slant, the story is centered on an attempt to save a polo club, which has been a hangout for generations of rich people, including the four leads, from being turned into a “yaya mall” (“Don’t get us wrong, we love our yayas but there are already so many malls they can hang out already,” someone says) by its newly rich owner (an over the top Dizon), a former cashier of the polo club who married a wealthy Chinese businessman. The rest of the movie deals with the half-assed stories of each of the four girls trying to outgrow their privileged upbringing.

It’s a slant that’s supposed to make this more bearable, like all the charity work that we hear all the rich people say they do to “give back to the community.” But here, it’s made out to be an afterthought. The girls do good but it doesn’t seem earned at all. The end is just there to resolve the tangle of plots involving the four main characters, Margaux (Heusaff), Claudia (Evangelista), Danielle (King), and Lizzie (Ramos).

The glaring flaw of Sosy Problems is that it sounds and looks unfinished. Apparently, the film still had a few days of shooting but was wrapped up prematurely or else it wouldn’t have made the deadline of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). The film’s producers decided that the film that they had was already good enough. This explains why the audio is bad (for instance, only one or two characters are audible where four speaking characters are on screen), the editing is clumsy, and there are a lot of plot developments that just come out of nowhere. It’s unfortunate because the film has a lot of potential, given that the upper class (or in this case, the “super duper upper class”) has been put in the cinematic spotlight in the wake of films like Ang Nawawala (What Isn’t There), The Animals, and Give Up Tomorrow. Sosy Problems ends up like a loose cannon, weighed down by its paltry treatment of the subject and all the mini-stories set up for each of the main characters, who are all embroiled in different types of first-world problems.

Various plotlines occur within the film’s limited time frame and each transition happens awkwardly, as if the story just makes itself up as it goes along. It can be distracting, especially when there is really nothing to hold on to. But the film’s saving grace, in its incomplete state, is the performances of the lead actresses, particularly Ramos and Heusaff, who seem in on this silliness. Gil, Isidro, and Dizon play caricatures and throw in the necessary campy lines that the trailer promised. But all this pa-witty and pa-ironic lines seem more like necessary kolorete to pump up the film, so as not to be overtaken by the gloss and the glamour showered on the girls’ styling (courtesy of Daryl and Andre Chang).

Sosy Problems turns out like one of the Class AAA bags that its characters abhor. It’s good-looking and promising, but it’s actually a low-grade replica of a wittier film (in print maybe). People may recognize the film’s crux as pettiness, but it actually draws out socio-political implications that go beyond the sheen of handbags, sprawling country clubs, and bling. This is where Sosy Problems could have gone deeper, subtler even, but its material isn’t up for that kind of responsibility.