Written and Directed by Rommel Tolentino
Cinefilipino Film Festival 2016
Aki (Japanese for autumn) is gone. Her mourning lover, Haruo, wanders around Japan trying to cope with her loss. And then it all goes black.
In the Philippines, a woman named Myla is brutally raped by her own husband. She eventually dies but miraculously resurrects with memories not her own. Visions of autumn, a forest, and running water race through her mind as clear as day.
Fragmented scenes of Haruo and Aki show that they seem to have an awareness of each other’s existence, regardless of the distance. Haruo’s fond memories of Aki and Myla’s borrowed memories of autumn (as of this point in time, audiences can probably assess that all of it are Aki’s memories) establish a connection between them that goes beyond the physical.
Aki is avant-garde in its own way, requiring a bit more intelligence and perception to understand the message writer and director Rommel Tolentino (who goes by the moniker of MILO) wants to convey. His presentation of Haruo and Myla’s metaphysical connection is beautifully made and can make you say “Wow!” with its visual quality.
The film also addresses physical abuse a number of women have to go through, simply because they are tied to their husband with a marriage contract. As depressing as it may be, her only escape is through someone else’s memories. The domestic abuse in her household is tolerated even by her mother, and Myla’s only solace is the comfort of her connection with Haruo.
MILO made the film using his fascination for autumn as an inspiration. But there lies the ominous message. Autumn is scarlet and bursts with a violent kind of beauty. Nevertheless, it is only a prelude. After the haze of color, everything becomes black and white, and everything dies.