High school woes and pre-college jitters in 'Senior Year'
Manila Bulletin – Tue, Dec 21, 2010
by Julien Merced Matabuena
"Senior Year," unlike its predecessor, the short film, "Faculty," puts the spotlight on high school life.
In "Faculty," director Jerrold Tarog focused on college teacher/activist Joan (Che Ramos) who resigned from her post after one of her students figured in an accident while attending a rally. At the end of the film, Joan declared that she's going to teach high school, thus, "Senior Year," where we see her teaching at a private institution.
Set in the fictional St. Frederick's Academy, "a Catholic school of distinction in Alabang, Muntinlupa" on the year 2010, "Senior Year" now follows the lives of classmates Sofia (Rossanne de Boda), Briggs (Daniel Lumain), Bridget (Mary Lojo), Solenn (Nikita Conwi), Stephanie (Sheila Bulanhagui), Bunda (Francez Bunda), Carlo (Daniel Medrana), Henry (Aaron Balana), Mitch (Celina Peñaflorida) and Chito (Eric Marquez) as they struggle through the last four months of high school.
All connected to one another in some ways, these students are portrayed dealing with personal issues aside from academics. Interspersed with clips of their future selves on the day of their 10th year reunion, their fates after high school are slowly revealed.
Initially one may think, upon hearing about "Senior Year," that it would be just like any other movie that has already come out in the past. After years of being sensitized to the overly dramatic and unrealistic plots of such, that mindset can't be helped.
Perhaps the best thing about this film is that everything about it, from beginning up to the very end, is very realistic. The storyline perfectly captures the typical Filipino high school experience. A lot of people who either have gone or are still going through high school will surely be able to relate to the triumphs and worries of the students of St. Frederick's.
The mix of professional actors who acted out the students' future selves (Arnold Reyes, Ina Feleo and RJ Ledesma) blended well with the amateur actors who portrayed the students. It's also good that the way everyone acted on the film made it seem like they're comfortable with what they're doing, as if the camera on their faces didn't bother them at all. The young actors not being "too pretty" undeniably contributed to the film's "normal" feel as well.
Ramos effectively portrayed the high school teacher who's a friend to her students. She was able to deliver her lines freely, as if she's a teacher in real life. On the other hand, the cameo appearance by Ramon Bautista as the school's PE teacher was short but still memorable due to his witty lines.
The dialogue all throughout the film was just right, sounding exactly like how 16-year old kids talk to one another. Thankfully, the characters did not blurt out epic lines on life and love and only stuck to simple dialogues. But that's not to say that "Senior Year" did not impart little nuggets of wisdom because it did, most especially about change.
In sum, "Senior Year" succeeded in translating to the big screen what typical senior year students face during the final months of high school. Every issue, from keeping relationships afloat to identity crises, was tackled in the movie without overdoing it. After all, they're just 16-year old students who aren't "wise" to the world yet, and are still in the process of getting to know themselves.