Review: Call Center Girl
You start thinking that a movie is bad when your friends start playing candy crush 20 minutes into the film. This is only interrupted by the occasional laughter, not even for the punch lines delivered, but for the awkward (read bad) delivery of lines.
Early on, Call Center Girl presents a forced conflict between Teresa (Pokwang) and her daughter played by the very bland Jessy Mendiola. Then there's the seemingly illogical act of working in a call center to make up for lost time and the incessant need to be melodramatic.
But as soon as the movie switched the setting to the call center set-up, which was queued in by someone in the audience, whom I presume is a call center employee, yelling "Ayan na!" a part of the movie became a reflection of the lives of the crowd that queued up in that single cinema in Glorietta.
As I had personally worked in the call center industry for over eight years, at least three in an outbound set-up, I was able to make sense of the raves that I had previously read on Twitter. Call Center Girl is clunky at best but it was able to connect to its target audience - the ones that labored through night shifts, the ones that try to make sense of ineffective scripts, the ones that are rattled by asshole team leads (yes they exist and in real life they are not redeemed by good looks and charm like Enchong Dee) to hit their quotas, the ones that go through hell in their personal lives but shake off the feeling over a bottle of beer or yosi just so they can still come off as upbeat and friendly when they finally make/receive calls. Now, this may not be a world that a lot of people can relate to but it reflects a relatable truth in it. I can honestly say that this world, silly as it may seem, actually exists. Hell, the people that I know in the industry have acted crazier and have made more illogical choices than Pokwang in the movie.
The problem with Call Center Girl is not the message, it was how it was delivered. If only they tried to get better actors (specifically in lieu of Jessy Mendiola and her movie siblings), if only they tried a bit harder to be more original and not be a clone of Tanging Ina, this film could have delivered its message better. As it stands, it offers a promising glimpse of the lives in an industry that is alien to most people - they just presented it so badly that people who have not lived this kind of life will end up not caring and will see it no more than just another bad mainstream cinema.