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‘TOL Movie Review: Brilliant performances overcome weak narrative weave

It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly Miko Livelo’s Tol went amiss.
It offers quite a sizeable amount of laugh trips, but the storytelling
never came out as a razor sharp narrative
as it should be – for it to be at its most effective form.

One, however, may immediately realize that the film wasn’t entirely intended to demonstrate wittiness, but that the amount of good humor it managed to deliver is hefty enough to inspire relentless chuckles.

In ‘Tol, Livelo has three incredible actors to realize these tricks. Dimitri (Joross Gamboa), Lando (Arjo Atayde), and Arthur (Ketchup Eusebio) are childhood friends working in a toll booth. Having promised each other that nothing and no one can ever tear their friendship apart, the three are determined to remain best friends forever. But that determination, and friendship, suddenly gets threatened to end when their childhood crush resurfaces.

Elena (Jessy Mendiola) is back in town for a short vacation. She unknowingly fires the starting shot for a race amongst the three friends who are now all keen to win her affection.

There are tons of comedic moments in ‘Tol that, although they feel utterly predictable, still comes out very effective nonetheless. Sometimes, you imagine a scene to fill the next frame, and it makes you crack in laughter even before that scene shows up.

Interestingly, the film is self-aware of its two-dimensional design. Throughout its run, it remains largely an exhibit of mindless physical humor. Although it talks about grown-up men who act like children, the narrative never really treats them as precious test subjects to an elaborate study. It transforms them, instead, to potent players in an utterly hilarious slapstick whose only objective is to make its audience laugh.

The players, Atayde, Eusebio, and Gamboa, are an indispensable mix. A huge part of the script’s success, to still end up rather efficiently, comes from the three actors’ incredible commitment the carry out the absurdity of their characters. There are a few things we can say about the flair of Eusebio and Gamboa, as both have already worked in various comedic roles before.

Atayde, however, pulls off a surprise with his Lando characterization. Arguably, Dimitri, Lando, and Arthur are essentially one character – simply played by different actors in their own unique perspectives. But Lando’s immaturity just has this comic charm that I can’t quite get from the other two.

On the whole, ‘Tol’ remains compelling, in spite of its deficiency. Not that it has to make up for it, really. It’s pretty clear from the start how its commitment is focused on delivering the laughs, rather than giving the audience something to think about.

‘Tol, ultimately, is a film that never really feels sorry for its lack of a more sophisticated narrative weave, and never recognizes the need to compensate for it.

What it does, however, is turn that very flaw into its own advantage: by making fun of it and somehow manages to bring the comedy and chaos to a more relatable level.

5 – Excellent
4 – Very Good
3 – Good
2 – Tolerable
1 – Terrible

A film produced by Reality Entertainment and directed by Miko Livelo, ‘Tol is now showing in cinemas nationwide.

Watch the official trailer, below:


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