2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten ****
Starring: Khalil Ramos, Ethan Salvador, Jameson Blake, Ana Capri
Director: Petersen Vargas
Felix (Ramos) is an intelligent high school student in The Philippines who thinks he’s far superior to the rest of his classmates. When the Snyder brothers arrive at his school, he thinks he’s finally met people on his wavelength. Half-American, the brothers hate the school, the small town where they live and their mother (Capri), who used to work as a prostitute. Felix is completely enamoured with Magnus (Salvador), but daunted by Max (Blake), whose dangerous behaviour and controversial ideas he finds both unnerving and magnetic.
The film starts out feeling like a romantic movie, but in reality, this is a thriller, in which the relationship between the three boys spirals out of control. As Max becomes more and more frantic in his attempts to convince his absent father to take him back to America, Felix’s desperation to deepen his friendship with Magnus becomes all the more fraught by just how much is at stake for them all. The Snyder Family were dysfunctional enough already, but the arrival of Felix and his entitlement complex just goes to shake everything up between them.
With inventive cinematography, the entire film occurs in the shadow of the Pinatubo volcano, whose most recent eruption had destroyed Felix’s home. With a bleak ash-filled river the backdrop for many of the film’s most dramatic scenes, the volcano is undoubtedly a metaphor for this explosive friendship, especially as the spot where Felix’s home once stood becomes the location of the film’s climax.
The narrative is fragmented, especially in its final act, which does frustrate the film’s pace at times. But otherwise, this is a strong but tragic coming-of-age thriller, with a trio of strong performances at its heart, even if its title makes it seem like an early 00s chatroom anecdote. It balances the perfect quantity of angst, lust and suspense, with these three young men’s fates hurtling little a freight train toward the destruction they are forging for each other.