Carlo Francisco Manatad’s Whether the Weather Is Fine is the complete antithesis of every single typhoon-related film to precede its distinct legacy. To be fair, there hasn’t been all that many movies in recent memory to challenge the status quo of the standard disaster flick. Hyperbole excluded, there is something rather enthralling and satisfying in finally discovering a natural disaster film completely rid of Roland Emmerich-lensed ice storms or soapy oscar-bait drama. In where it distinctly prevails in its own maddening depiction of the fall of civilisation itself, Manatad’s aimless portrayal of a Typhoon-squandered wasteland somewhat succeeds with its inaccessible execution and alienating narrative.
Mantad mixes different genres to tantalising effect within his surprisingly endearing rag-tag coming-of-age western. Utilising tropes and archetypal character roles that would usually be found in westbound films involving deserted ghost towns and ambiguous saloons — the mirage and emotional effect of adding these brief nods to American media enforce the film’s political themes and subliminal messages on the common societal invader. Throughout Whether the Weather Is Fine, there is always a consistent external force dawning upon the civilians of Tacloban City. In every scene, there is a brief moment of subtext — evocative satire either parodying the obsessed post-colonialist dependency on religious paraphernalia and practice, and the inept local government-sponsored military with their tribulations regarding crowd control & cowardice.
The film — for some discernible reason — is also ironically set during the holiday season. Instead of a time of rejoice, Whether the Weather Is Fine depicts a world of conflict, violence, and civil unrest. The visual palette matches the same level of potency as the aforementioned ironic juxtaposition — by depicting a world of hectic havoc with stark deadpan beauty over Hollywood-infused dreary tones and flat framing. It’s the high level of commitment from the production design and makeup-concept departments that ultimately sell the film’s depiction of a storm-trodden Filipino community.
Though the messy truth is — regardless of its impressive visual flare or its brief nods towards its own slight political commentary — Carlo Francisco Manatad often falters in keeping a consistent focus and overarching end goal. The film could have benefited from a refined central theme; a clearer observation on the humanitarian crises at hand by limiting subplots and supporting character interactions. The film is paced like a hushed lullaby, where the wandering narrative beats are proven tedious with the pre-existing structure. Whether the Weather Is Fine can be best described as a skeleton with a broken spine; a film that contains all the remaining bones and bits to complete its human shell — but fails to unite the connective tissue in a meaningful and emotionally potent manner. Just like the characters and their uncertain fate, the film is stuck in infinite limbo — an endlessly admirable albeit somewhat forgettable experimental attempt at re-contextualising the disaster film narrative.