In ‘Learning Tagalog with Kayla’, a lonely woman will try to teach us the basics of tagalog, and will reveal too much about her strange life.
Directed by: Kayla Abuda Galang.
Starring: Kayla Abuda Galang, David Oconer, Will Kurzner.
Country: United States.
Running time: 5 minutes.
From the very beginning Learning Tagalog with Kayla is presented as a retro style mini lesson about Tagalog, the language of The Philippines, Kayla’s homeland. As Kayla starts to talk, we notice how awkward this is for her. It’s not that she isn’t a natural, but there’s something behind Kayla’s costume of joy, and this real version of her we will get to know in just a few seconds. In just five minutes, we are able compile the elements of Kayla’s surroundings and her feelings, to put together a figure that can actually transmit an alien form of communication.
There’s something else in Kayla’s glance, some sort of concern that’s only visible when she repeats a line. This line is a surefire affirmation of wellness. As she must officially begin her video she stares down at something. The sadness is unbearable. Learning Tagalog with Kayla is a comedy by all means, but one that’s engulfed in a strange pattern of definite and toxic isolation.
An awkward look in the mirror
Kayla does what we all did during 2020, an infamous year that taught modern society how to live in isolation. She bakes, but she gets tired of baking. Exercise comes next, and even though her roommate also works out and motivates her, Kayla says it’s too hot. Kayla becomes fascinated with video game characters, and only this can bring a smile to her face. I won’t reveal what’s next, but roommates and pets are involved. As comedic as the situation gets, the elements of dreadful sadness and vulnerability also show up. It’s a clear reflection of our life during an era whose effects we still won’t be able to comprehend.
Kayla describes the rest of her life in tagalog and the mystery doesn’t grow. It doesn’t need to. We understand very well as we all were Kayla at some time, and decided to do things with our life, while we glanced at the impossible sadness of our isolated circumstance. A direct punch to the gut.
An intelligent and stylish twist of genre
Not much can be taught in five minutes as Kayla Abuda Galang, director/writer/actress/cinematograher/editor, doesn’t pretend to do so. Her intention is to do a funny depiction of solace and frustration in a lo fi setting that feels like a direct wink at our fascination with vintage stuff. Kayla has fun while portraying a generality and for this she deserves an applause. I’m not sure if I want to experience more of her comedy abilities, but I definitely want to see more of her material.
It’s not easy to make fun of ourselves without ridiculing a culture or inevitable trend. Kayla Abuda Galang does a very good job at this. Her own way of mocking everybody, and even her true self, feels like one of several hints of an awkwardness we sometimes reject and even deny. Some people started baking, some started working out, and some even changed their lives with this horrible pandemic. Kayla the teacher didn’t, and she’s struggling. Let’s go along with her and learn some tagalog with this miserable and funny method.
With information from IMDB