Ending at the Gate

'Dyagwar' lacks purpose and drive, and thus comes off as random and confused.

Dyagwar limits itself to a very small slice of space and time. Most of it takes place on the curb in front of a residential compound, where residents stop briefly to interact with one of two security guards. It’s an intriguing concept in theory, but really tedious in practice. The movie depicts a lot of little stories, but has trouble making them fit into a single flowing narrative. Subpar production also keeps the movie from achieving anything remarkable. Dyagwar lacks purpose and drive, and thus comes off as random and confused.

Cousins Manuel and Ruel (Boom Labrusca and Eric Fructuoso) trade shifts as security guards at a residential compound. In the day shift, Manuel is intent on keeping out of trouble, but he gets caught up in the drama of the various residents of the compound. Meanwhile, after dark, Ruel shirks his responsibilities in favor of spending time with a prostitute, but he somehow ends up looking like a hero anyway. The two get involved in the lives of the tenants, and get into quite a mess because of it.

The problems begin with the characters. Not a single one of them manages to come off as three-dimensional. Worse yet, they all seem to have built off the most generic of templates. At no point does anyone exhibit behavior that one might find surprising or interesting. They’re all just fumbling through the motions of the most cliché character types. It makes everything feel predictable, the movie playing out beats that were established decades ago, before any of this story actually existed.

The movie does little to mitigate this. It only offers passing glimpses to most of these stories, and thus the movie is unable to provide details that may have let them transcend the triteness. It feels like the movie is only dealing with the broadest strokes of story, and does so from the outside looking in. It doesn’t get to dig any deeper, the gates of the compound a barrier to the development of narrative. Weak filmmaking compounds the problem. The movie just doesn’t look very good, the camerawork tepid at best. The sound is awfully inconsistent, which really marks the film as an amateur effort.

The acting is enthusiastic but generally unmemorable. Of the two leads, Eric Fructuouso is able to build more of a character. As Ruel, he broods and he leers, visibly displaying a grimy center. Boom Labrusca doesn’t offer nearly as much personality, though one must acknowledge that the arc of his character is ridiculously vague. The ensemble cast brings a lot of energy to the table, but little direction. There’s actually very little interaction between most of the actors, and the lack of familiarity shows.

Dyagwar seems to have a lot of ideas, but not a lot of ambition. It offers up traces of several stories, but it doesn’t go much further. For the most part, the stories end at the gate, with hardly anything resolved, and many more questions left unanswered. The movie struggles to even keep its timeline, the events of the film happening in a weird haze of unspecified time. There’s merit to the concept, but not enough was done to actually make it worth watching.

My Rating:

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