culture by Philbert Dy

‘Swipe’ Tells Four Unsatisfying Stories

A split narrative hampers this depiction of modern coupling.

NBHD movie 2 ticketsSwipe basically follows four people who operate within the same apartment complex. Janet (Meg Imperial) has just moved in with her boyfriend, but is starting to suspect that he isn’t being faithful to her. Gloria (Maria Isabel Lopez) has been dating someone online for the last three months, and is looking forward to finally meeting him. Frank (Gabby Eigenmann) is trying to take his first tentative steps towards exploring his true sexuality. And security guard Loida (Mercedes Cabral) is having an illicit affair with the manager of the apartment complex, who is becoming dangerously obsessed with her.Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 2.11.18 PMInterestingly, though the title would seem to suggest the prevalence and use of a certain dating app or an analogue, it doesn’t really factor much into any of the stories. The movie isn’t really putting much thought towards the consequences of the modern convenience of apps like Tinder, or what it really means to build relationships on the premise of snap visual judgments made on a phone. The film promises to be a snapshot of it is that people couple today, but it doesn’t get specific enough. It just makes these rough sketches of situations that don’t get much of a chance at a satisfying resolution.Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 2.11.50 PMThe structure proves to be a problem for the movie. Any one of these stories might have made for a better movie on its own. None of them benefit by being in proximity to each other. It just means less time to flesh out the details of each story. It means less time to build up to the major revelations. It means having to break the momentum of these stories as the movie cuts between them. The narratives just come out underdeveloped, and the film fails to build something meaningful in having these stories occur concurrently. The narratives hardly ever intersect, and their themes don’t really seem to coincide.Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 2.13.22 PMThere do seem to be some intriguing ideas in there, or at least some aspects of sexuality and relationships that haven’t been covered nearly enough. There are some interesting gender and class dynamics at play in some of its scenes. But it all ends up feeling half-baked. The developments come at a rush, and there isn’t nearly enough time to really unpack what’s going on with the characters. We don’t get to spend time with them as they contemplate what it is that they’ve done, or what might be coming to them. The film just cuts away to another story.Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 2.13.48 PMAt least the film looks pretty good. There’s a distinct coldness to its scenes, perhaps a reflection of the film’s general outlook on modern relationships. The camera captures a certain feeling within its characters that isn’t necessarily reflected in the scenes as written. The acting is, to put it generously, serviceable at best. Meg Imperial headlines a cast that seemingly goes broad to compensate for the lack of time to develop their characters. It doesn’t really work, as the performance clash with the film’s more subdued aesthetics.Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 2.15.22 PMSwipe doesn’t really engage. Every now and then it lands on something weird and salacious, or has its characters doing something out of the ordinary. But there isn’t enough connective tissue to make these disparate events feel like part of a greater whole. It feels like Swipe could have used another pass at the screenplay, maybe a fresh set of eyes that could have made all of these components fit together into a more cohesive form. These stories end up feeling incomplete, their meaning lost in the haze of the structure.

SWIPE IS NOW SHOWING IN SELECTED CINEMAS NATIONWIDE.
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Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.
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