Kawatan Sa Salog (A Toy in the River) | 2021 Cinemalaya Film Review

Santi: I shouldn’t have stolen things. I should have listened to my father.

Old woman: Everyone makes mistakes. What’s important is that we learn.

KAWATAN SA SALOG (A TOY IN THE RIVER)

BY ALPHIE VELASCO
SHORT FEATURE COMPETITION

SYNOPSIS: Santi, an ill-behaved child, steals a dinosaur toy which makes his father mad. After he runs away from home, Santi accidentally drowns in the river but wakes up on a mysterious island where odd traditions are meant to be followed. He is then sentenced to clean the shore full of trash as punishment for stealing the revenant’s sacred boat. Luckily, an old woman helps him and they form a strong bond. But after helping the old woman achieve her peace, the revenant finally allows him to leave their sanctuary. He returns home but his father is nowhere to be found. Instead, he finds the dinosaur toy floating on the river.

Thoughts on Kawatan Sa Salog (A Toy in the River)

A selfish boy drowns and finds himself on a mysterious island. Along with his lost soul is the regret he feels for not listening to his father. Kawatan Sa Salog (A Toy in the River) is full of life lessons presented through beautiful visuals.

The film’s locations and color palette create the right atmosphere. It was enigmatic, and I had the sensation that life had come to a halt. When Santi and the grandma were collecting rubbish washed up on the shore, the camera movement was a lovely touch. It made me feel like I was watching them from the water.

In terms of plot, I like the idea of lost souls washing up on a mysterious island, with all the strange rituals and punishments that come with it. But I felt something was lacking after Santi helped the elderly woman attain peace, which is my favorite scene, and was permitted to leave the island.

What exactly is it? I’m not sure. But I do know that Kyle Kaizer, who portrayed Santi, and veteran Lui Manansala, who played the grandmother, did an excellent job.

KAWATAN SA SALOG (A TOY IN THE RIVER)
BY ALPHIE VELASCO
SHORT FEATURE COMPETITION 7/10

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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