Tagged by some critics as a bourgeois-juvenile film and criticized for unapologetically representing the middle-upper class society, Ang Nawawala is actually a beautiful depiction of a young man’s attempt to rejoin a life that has been marred by a death in the family. It is a refreshing departure from movies that exploit and dwell on poverty and from the biased, one-sided way of thinking that seems to believe that this is the only reality that matters.
The film tells the story of the quiet conflict within a family and how this conflict can sometimes be so deafening that we try and cope by retreating within ourselves. It is a universal theme that is much more relatable than the million and one stories told of a person that clings on prostitution, gets involved in crime or sells their children for money. In not so many words, Ang Nawawala tells a story of an attempt to salvage a life by finding solace in friends, losing yourself in the random things that life has to offer and that liberating power of love that makes us forget our worries and ails even for a short time. For most people, regardless of social standing and whether their problems are real or imagined, this film depicts their life. This is not a mere glorification of a lifestyle, it is a life that we have lived at one point or another.
We have all been at that breaking point where you feel like you want to scream your head off just to be heard but you choose silence because it is ultimately easier. We have all tried to escape our troubles by endless nights of partying (or inuman sa kanto) and being with people that get us, people that understand even if we don’t spell out our problems. And we have all been given that ultimate drug, one that makes us feel that the universe has finally conspired to make everything alright and where a simple touch can electrify us and make us look into the possibility of a happily ever after.
Putting Ang Nawawala in a box and labeling it as nothing more than depicting a privileged life and making it more desirable to the audience is simply missing its point. When you look beyond the cynicism, this story depicts a part in all of us – one that retreats in silence, one that is awed by love and finally, one that copes and moves on because that is the only choice that we have.