Essays

‘Gusto Kita with All My Hypothalamus’: Aileen, a shapeshifter

Four men went crazy over her. You do not know her name. She is someone who just passes you by in the streets of Avenida. She can be anyone you want. She is Aileen. She can give you anything–love, lust, obsession, and companionship. But she will leave you. You will long for her. Forever.

Aileen (Iana Bernardez) has no personality. It is not because director and writer Dwein Baltazar did a bad character study. It is because Aileen is meant to adjust. She is meant to be seen. Her shallowness makes her a shapeshifter, a blank slate for others to project their fantasies onto.

Young, boyish Caloy (Nicco Manalo) was sincere towards Aileen, as was she. The older Lando (Soliman Cruz) translated his loneliness into sexual fantasies involving Aileen. The outcast Obeng (Anthony Falcon) shapes his obsession and insecurity with Aileen’s little gestures. High schooler Alex’s (Dylan Ray Talon) reckless attitude and search for understanding were evident as to how he sees Aileen as someone who will accept him for who he is, a common need at his age.

The nuanced cinematography further helped viewers understand how these men saw Aileen. Neil Daza was using the visuals to tell the story. In Lando’s storyline, he was so consumed with his thoughts about Aileen that wherever he looked, he just saw Aileen and Aileen on loop. He was trapped.

Daza’s stellar visual interpretation made us focus on the four men instead of Aileen herself, that this was a film about these men. It showcased different feelings of desire towards one object. Aileen is desired for what she appears to be. The cuts of her dress, the type of jewelry she is wearing, they all change for each man. At that point, it is clear that Aileen is an object.

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Aileen was able to redeem her freedom as the film ends. She was able to accept herself for who she is; she does not need to live up to these men’s definitions of her. Aileen abandoned their fantasies. She breathes then lives–her story continues.

What is good about this film is it broke the rules of logic and morals. It went out of this Hollywood obsession and embraced its identity as a film that dwells on feelings. Watching Gusto Kita with All My Hypothalamus is like meditating, its transcendental aura brings you in the middle of the immaterial and material. It is a fantasy but deviates from the conventions of the genre. It is unreal but managed to deliver a story in a realist manner. It will make you fall in love with Aileen, over and over again in any form. It is unreal; she is too good to be true. But it will make you hold on to that one moment where she was real–at least for you.

And in the moment that she begins to live for herself, you will find her, but she will never come back. Yet she is everywhere.

 

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