Gabriel is saddled with the totally unnecessary parenthetical ”Ito ang Kuwento Ko”, as if the name of the title character wasn’t enough to suggest that the story was his own. It’s just one of the many strange choices that this movie makes, a movie that is hilariously declared a masterpiece on its trailer description on Youtube. Calling a masterpiece would be a stretch, to say the least. The movie can be wildly entertaining, though for none of the right reasons. Gabriel is a baffling little movie that just doesn’t seem to understand how humans work.
As children, Gabriel (Norris John) and his brother Benedict (Lester Lucas) were taken away from their adulterous mother by their father. Growing up, Gabriel never gave up on reuniting with his mother. When his father declares that he's become close to another woman, Gabriel decides to leave their home and find his mother. But his new surroundings offer no peace, as a prospective romance soon lands him in the sights of a jealous rival. And while all this is happening, Gabriel continues to work towards the reconciliation of his family.
Let me offer up some spoilers. The reason their father took them away is because Benedict saw his mother embracing another man. It is later revealed that the man she was embracing was her brother, who was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, and had just gotten out of prison. Apparently, she had no time to explain this while the boys were taken away, or in any of the years following. The entire movie is based on a silly misunderstanding that could have explained away in a few seconds. And yet, this conflict is played as high opera, pushing the characters to scream and yell and cry as if the world was about to crumble.
It’s all inexplicably stupid. Outside of this main dramatic thread, the movie seems to be determined to be an action film. It has Gabriel fighting off bullies and jealous rivals in odd diversions that don’t really go anywhere. These scenes, though energetic, add no tension to the story. Gabriel is basically invincible, the character never really finding himself in any trouble that he couldn’t kick his way out of. The most tension-filled scene in the movie is also the most ridiculous one. At one point, Gabriel and his girlfriend are picked up by the police and handcuffed together. They take a long car ride to a remote place, his girlfriend deathly afraid about what’s going to happen.
It turns out, however, that Gabriel had set all this up, and just wanted a nice secluded place to declare his love to her. This is sociopathic behavior. The movie plays it as a romantic gesture, but any reasonable person would interpret this as just a terrible thing to do. It does not help that Norris John comes off as a bit of a psychopath. His acting is completely unnatural, lacking the most basic connection to human emotion. He is supposed to be a hero, but his conception of how regular people act is so strange that it comes off as alien.
Gabriel only finds worth as a piece of ironic viewing. It is hilariously and irredeemably awful, every one of its choices so charmingly misguided. It certainly does mean well, and at the very least, the people involved seem to really believe in the project. But that doesn’t make it any better as a movie. It is just inexplicable at times, the movie straying so far from basic logic and human behavior that one can’t help but laugh.