Cinemalaya Review: “When This Is All Over” Talks Pandemic, Privilege & Priorities

Cinemalaya Review: “When This Is All Over” Talks Pandemic, Privilege & Priorities

Should “When This Is All Over” be your Cinemalaya pick?



“When This Is All Over” is one of the full-length movie entries to Cinemalaya 2023. The film takes place in the middle the pandemic—you still remember the time: itching to be out, eager to make a connection, sometimes the fear of an actual pandemic taking the backseat to cabin fever.



The film follows The Guy, a druggie and a dealer, who wants to fly to his mother in the US to ease the loneliness he feels trapped in his paid-for condo. When he comes across a group of friends—privileged, in his eyes—who are dying to throw an illegal party in the middle of quarantine, he has an idea: they can help him get his visa, and all he has to do is help them throw their party. 


When he forms a connection with the condo staff, particularly well-meaning Rosemarie who knows (and shows him) where the key to the off-limits rooftop is, The Guy decides he has everything he needs to reach his goal. 


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The film is a trip, let’s get that first out of the way. A recurring theme is that these privileged kids, The Guy included, are often on some sort of bender. It’s their way to escape their boredom and their parents (who they always call on when they’re in trouble). The visuals represent as much: lucid colors, blurred corners, slow-mo experiences, some animation. Everything comes to a stop with a sudden jolt; the characters wake up somewhere completely different from the last conscious scene. Like waking up at home after a rough night out.



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The cast is believable and funny. They throw in “I’m going to call my dad! Don’t you know who I am?” and “Who are you? I'm going to report you!” like they’ve been doing it their whole lives. The slow realizations and responses are hilarious, a telling sign of how high the characters are in the film. 


The humor of When This Is All Over is one we all know and can appreciate: conyo humor. Those phrases we’ve all made fun of (Sheesh!), the accent that is still—even in 2023—an accepted way to tell the Philippines, “Yes, I grew up different from you. We are not the same. I deserve to be treated better.”


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But enough about that, let’s talk about the story. It’s no secret that When This Is All Over puts a glaring spotlight on the conversation of privilege. Who has more than enough, who has enough, who doesn’t have much. And when put under the glass container of the pandemic, these differences become even more obvious. We all couldn’t technically leave the safety of our homes, but who had to step out into the world to make ends meet? Who could stay home and work from home, and still get paid their same salary? Who didn’t need to work at all? And when we all break the rules, who actually feels the consequences? 


Were we itching for necessities or just a binge?



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But while When This Is All Over had me laughing out loud and subtly snickering, it also lays on the guilt pretty heavily. For those who believed that they bested delivery guys to get their goods, used their grocery runs for booze and barely had to worry about how the world closing up affected their ability to live, it’s a reminder that suffering is subjective. And for those who watch the film and resonate more with Rosemarie, then it might be a little offensive.


But as with everything, I hope you find the humor in it—there's a lot of it, really. 


Catch “When This Is All Over,” an independent film entry to Cinemalaya 2023, now.



Art Macky Arquilla


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