I have been using online dating services as early as first year college, but never has it found acceptance until today. Back then, it was something to be embarrassed about, akin to having the Scarlet Letter (back then it was two letters and a number: G4M) pinned to one’s chest. Now, everyone is – or has tried – a variety of dating apps, from Tinder to Grindr, Blued, Skout, and Brenda. Tinder became so popular that even celebrities signed up for accounts. Now, there’s a movie about online dating and its dark side.
Swipe is a collection of stories that shows the thrills and dangers of online dating. It follows the residents of Sunrise Apartments, and their (mis)adventures on the dating app Swipe, an amalgamation of Tinder and Grindr. There’s Gloria, a mother who is rediscovering love after meeting a rich businessman. Frank is a closeted man who uses the app to meet escorts. Janet, a new resident, struggles to save her marriage, but returns to her dark past when she tries the app. And then there’s Loida, the security guard, who gets entangled when she gets into an affair with one of the movie’s key characters.
The movie is striking because it portrays the users as normal human beings looking for love. In the past, I was warned to be careful because these websites and apps are filled with perverts and psychos, but I know that the users are just like me: fully-functioning people who want to be less lonely. The characters in the movie are merely victims who discover their match’s catch, whatever it may be. And there are many: he’s a thief, he’s a scammer who’s out to get your money, or he’s a committed person looking for fun on the side. Suddenly, finding out that his profile photo was taken four years and 25 pounds ago isn’t so bad.
I am fortunate enough not to have fallen for any of these, but not many are lucky. Just recently, a makeup artist was robbed of P50,000 worth of items and cash by a Grindr meetup. A few months ago, a British man was convicted after murdering four young men he met on the same app. Around the same time, a woman tried to climb off the 14th floor balcony of a Tinder date in Australia, where she fell to her death. Of course, not all online dating horror stories result to you dying, but you get what I mean.
The victims of Swipe are played to great effect, but it’s not surprising when you have an ensemble cast. Janet is played by the beautiful Meg Imperial, who captures the role’s needed vulnerability and desperation to fix a crumbling marriage. The same vulnerability is expressed when she tries the app and goes on a downward spiral. Veteran actress and beauty queen Maria Isabel Lopez provides the laughs as Gloria, a middle-aged woman who is making the most out of her new single life. Then there’s Gabby Eigenmann, the closeted entrepreneur who believes in second chances. The actor isn’t new to gay roles, but he portrays it with such nuance that it doesn’t become a caricature. The supporting characters, played by Alex Medina, Luis Alandy, Alvin Anson, and Neil Coleta capably play their roles as the main characters’ love interests.
My only issue with the film is how it didn’t maximize Mercedes Cabral as Loida, the security guard. Cabral is a great actress who can take on a great role, and she could have had more screen time to develop her story with Luis Alandy. Her story arc was intriguing, and I would have loved to see it fleshed out more.
Overall, director Ed Lejano gathers a great collection of actors to tell their online horror stories. Despite the number stories, it doesn’t overwhelm the viewer. Lejano ties all of them nicely to deliver one simple message: don’t believe everything you read online.
Swipe is now showing in all cinemas in Metro Manila and select theaters in provinces.