‘The Gifted’ succeeds in spoofing only itself | Inquirer Entertainment

‘The Gifted’ succeeds in spoofing only itself

12:05 AM September 22, 2014

CRISTINE Reyes (left) and Anne Curtis, wearing a fake nose and a fat suit, respectively

CRISTINE Reyes (left) and Anne Curtis, wearing a fake nose and a fat suit, respectively

While watching Chris Martinez’s “The Gifted,” I kept thinking about how The New Yorker magazine fact-checks even the short stories it publishes in its Fiction pages.

The movie has been received with glowing reviews, but my fiction-writing teacher would be adamant about the story’s “worlding.” What this means is that, in creating the world where a story plays out, the author should make sure that this world is true to itself. Only then will the story have integrity.


In “The Gifted,” the worlding is referenced to grade school and high school life.


A character whose poor family had to borrow money so she could enroll at the Ateneo de Manila University is later described as having aced her scholarship exam. To think she was supposed to have missed her chance at the grant because she was only number two in her graduating class! (The Ateneo offers scholarships to deserving students, valedictorians or not.)

Framing device


In an interview, Martinez said this film was inspired by “War of the Roses.” He might as well have titled it “War of the Poses,” seeing how his actors—the “bankable” Anne Curtis, Cristine Reyes and Sam Milby—are intermittently presented in various stages of dishabille.

We get it: It’s a story within a story, and the framing device is a book reading by the book author that Milby plays.

There’s a problem: Where in the world do you have a book-signing event where the author reads the entire book? If that were the norm, the movie “Before Sunset” would have played out differently. If he had done a whole-book reading, Ethan Hawke’s character would have invariably missed his flight.


I once wandered about the Upper East Side and found myself in a tiny bookshop where The New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane and his wife, Allison Pearson, were reading from their books (his collection of film reviews, her novel). These are two writers who deserved to read their entire books, but they didn’t.

Not brains


All right, let us suppose that the framing device used in “The Gifted” does not defy logic. The story, as narrated via the book being read, is about two geniuses who have been classmates since Grade 3 and who were drawn to each other because, despite their mind-boggling performance in academics, they were never welcomed into normal (“underachieving” would be the word here) society.

They are taken seriously only after they finished college and underwent all kinds of aesthetic surgery and body enhancement procedures to achieve what normal society would call beauty. In short, the takeaway lesson is that what matters in life is beauty more than brains.

In between this and that, a boy/man comes between the two frenemies. He is played, of course, by Milby, with that trademark eyebrow-raising put-down promdi accent that is somehow replaced by an American twang later on.

Yes, the film cries spoof from start to finish: A magazine peddled about here and there is gleefully titled “Kavogue.”

But a spoof of what? “Sex and the City,” whose familiar slinky music is used flagrantly in the scene where Curtis espies Reyes and Milby in a cozy moment?

It will not be totally off-the-mark to suggest that this film succeeds in spoofing itself and its conceits.

So yesterday!


The audience I was part of got closure about the framing device only once the credits started rolling up the screen. Several people had left by then, puzzled. Why would anyone in this day and age still glorify those glossy and glitzy “values?” Beauty. Pride. Competition. They’re so yesterday!

Some of the moviegoers who stayed and saw how the story-within-a-story came undone were, at best, unsatisfied with the gimmicky turn of events.

I’m sure I was not the only one aghast at the burlesque finale. The two women friends, the intelligent but aesthetically challenged “real” characters of the “real life story” have grown up to realize that they are each other’s “gift.”

Despite the revelation that they were really accepted and loved by their schoolmates—the opposite of what the book being read by Milby says—the things that stick to mind are the scheming and yakking and bewildering stretch of events.

Misery loves company? I don’t think that’s fun. Or funny. That’s mean.

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Which reminds me of an episode of “Golden Girls,” that truly, wholeheartedly, funny TV sitcom of several MTV generations ago. A character lashes out at her sister for writing misleadingly about her in a book that has just been published: “You described the character fashioned after me as having a mole on my face, but you very well know I don’t have a mole. Well, maybe just this tiny itsy-bitsy thingy, you know?” The sister winks at her and says, “But, my dear, that’s why it’s called fiction!”

TAGS: Chris Martinez, Entertainment, film review, The Gifted

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