Audrey (Dana Jamison) is hitchhiking her way through the Philippines, in search of a treasure based on an old Filipino myth. Forming an unlikely friendship with belligerent writer Nick (Nick Medina), and eventually rescued by the transportation-providing lovers Hazel (Genelyka Castin) and Rey (Leonard Olaer), Audrey’s lonely adventure seems to take a turn for the better. Well, except that the group encounters a biker gang of bandits, intrigued by the possibility of finding riches, who antagonize them at every opportunity.
Randal Kamradt’s feature film, Faraway, finds itself straddling a number of disparate tones, which can make for a sometimes off-putting, though interesting, mix. Sometimes the film seems like a whimsical adventure for young adults, with the more dangerous elements just being part of what makes it exciting, like how it is handled in, say, The Goonies (if the kids get caught, the Fratellis could wind up hurting them, but you’re never really that concerned that they’ll come to harm). But here, someone will get shot, or stabbed, and it’s not all that innocent and fun anymore.
The film has some pretty violent and dark moments where whimsy turns to nightmare. But it’s also funny. Yet sometimes grating. Again, it’s a mix of many tones, some polar opposites, but it does tend to work, for the most part. It’s just not always a smooth experience as you try to navigate what is to be taken as reality, and what might be considered more in keeping with a tale of modernized mythology.
And I think the challenge of pinning down the tone can be seen in the performances of the actors, as some handle things in a more subdued manner, and others play their roles to the melodramatic rafters. The character of Nick, for example, is so over-the-top obnoxious he severely sticks out at all times. It’s hard to say that his character fits in this film, and yet hard to say that he doesn’t.
In the end, I appreciate that the film managed to suggest grand moments of adventure, and it does have its moments where you get caught up in the fun. Its tone is so uneven, however, it’s hard to ever find yourself settling in with it. It’s a varied and unique cinematic flavor, to say the very least, even if all the spices don’t work together.
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