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Classist, offensive and bereft of nuance- Cinema express

Theodore Boborol’s comedy-drama film fails to impress with its often grotesque and unsubtle brand of humour. But despite the many things it has going against it, the narrative sure possesses the potential to do better. Alas, if the execution and writing were superior and the acting less over-the-top, this Filipino romcom may well have been salvageable. My reasoning for this is simple; The Entitled is not all that hard to sit through. The story, though cliched and overcooked, is of a young adult woman from a rough, less-privileged background reconnecting with her wealthy father and attempting to adapt to a new way of life. In such situations, the scale of complication is high, something that ought to lend itself to decent storytelling.

Director – Theodore Boborol
Cast – Alex Gonzaga, JC De Vera, Johnny Revilla, Ara Mina, Melai Cantiveros, Andi Abaya
Streaming On – Netflix

What Boborol and Gonzaga (she is also one of the writers too) bring to you is a film that pulls out every stale cliché in the book. Little nuance or sensitivity is paid to Belinda’s (Alex Gonzaga) circumstances. Instead of subtle hints of her adjustment of her, the writing and direction of her go to great lengths to mold her into a caricature. On the one hand, she is supposed to be clued up in the ways of the world owing to her tough upbringing, but as soon as she is introduced to her father, his family and their luxurious way of life, she turns into this bumbling oaf with seemingly limited understanding as to how the world works. For instance, she is well versed with the internet, using Facebook Live and TikTok regularly, but when she encounters Alexa in her palatial bedroom, she smashes the “talking box” to smithereens out of fear. Another running gag through The Entitled is Belinda’s inability to deal with stressful situations. An uncomfortable expression washes over her face de ella at such times as she clutches her stomach. It’s always some form of gastrointestinal distress to contend with; she’s either throwing up on an unsuspecting person or rushing to the bathroom to relieve herself. This crude, toilet brand of humor is meant to elicit uproarious laughter, of course, but ends up going the way of its own excremental tunnel.

The dramatic parts of the film (Belinda’s relationship with her father, specifically) ought to have been explored in greater detail for improved results. Enrico’s (Johnny Revilla) guilt with regard to Belinda and her mother de ella and Belinda wishing for her father de ella to accept her de ella unconditionally are instances that work in the narrative’s favour. Class divide is another major theme. While it is trivialized for the most part, with Belinda being the butt of all jokes, as it were, there are moments when Theodore Boborol gets his act together. Belinda befriends the governess at her new mansion de ella and connects with her father’s hotel staff immediately. She goes so far as to push for a hike in the latter’s salaries while learning the ropes of the business. This kind of behavior is frowned upon and to be avoided in the circles her ella stepmother, Matilda (Ara Mina), and ella stepsister, Caitlyn (Andi Abaya), move in. What disappoints most about The Entitled is that the real (such as these aforementioned examples) is substituted for the ridiculous nine times out of ten.

Alex Gonzaga’s purportedly comical aspects of her central role are matched in their idiocy only by Melai Cantiveros (playing Governess Yaya Monina). She has a secret crush (not-so-secret, if you go by her behaviour) on Jacob (JC De Vera) and is heartbroken when her affection towards Belinda grows. Her facial contortions and mocking expressions of her are highly overdone and hard to watch. Cantiveros’ role may be added to the list of caricatures pushed forth by the narrative. The awkward romantic tangle brewing between Belinda and Jacob is ham-fisted, to say the least. The moment of conflict, something you’re able to see long before it comes to pass, is one more failed mission on the part of the makers. In their effort to sketch Belinda as a childlike village belle who’s rough around the edges, they end up presenting her as a childish boor. The film is most certainly classist, portraying less-privileged village folk in a manner bereft of nuance or sensitivity.

Had they touched more upon the drama (read real), The Entitled could well have ended up being a watchable effort. It is perhaps the potential of this realism (from Ella’s fractured relationship with her father to Ella’s difficult circumstances back in her small hometown) that compels you to watch the film to its conclusion. Unfortunately, potential alone only takes you so far. For the most part, this slapstick, an unsubtle attempt at portraying class differences is borderline offensive and anything but funny, if you think about it!

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