There are a couple of things one needs to know prior to delving into a satire like Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story. First: the film is inspired by popular Filipino telenovelas. These beloved soap operas usually feature characters who scream “Hayop Ka!,” which translate to “You Animal!” or “You Son of a B****”, in the height of conflict.
The fact that the central figures in director Avid Liongoren’s cheeky animated comedy are, in fact, animals should tell you what type of film you are watching.
The second thing to note is that shock jock radio hosts have increasingly become surrogate therapists for those who lack the funds to get professional advice. This is a double-edged sword though as the hosts usually turn the caller’s personal hardships into humiliating spectacles for ratings. While this unfair trial by public opinion appears in the later sections of the film, Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story keeps its feet firmly in the soapy waters of melodrama throughout.
Nothing screams salacious drama more than a good ole fashion love triangle. The lynchpin of which is a feline named Nimfa Dimanno who works as a perfume saleslady in a local store. Living paycheque to paycheque, Nimfa has grown weary of her life with her buff canine blue-collar boyfriend Roger. Deeply in love with Nimfa, Roger’s job as a janitor can barely cover rent, let alone a decent meal that is not beef stew at the local street vendor.
Viewing the beef stew a symbol of their monotonous relationship, Nimfa’s eyes begin to wander when she crosses paths with the wealthy Iñigo at her store. A successful businessman who hobnobs with fellow elites like Elon Musk, referred to as “Eel-on Mask” in the film, Iñigo is the ultimate player. He is a dog after all. Swept off her feet with a lavish and unexpected getaway at one of Iñigo many estates, Nimfa’s urges get the better of her as she has a passionate encounter that sends her heart aflutter.
The rose-coloured glasses of love cannot block the piercing cold light of reality though. A fact that Nimfa learns the hard way when Roger finds out about her affair. Torn between two men…er…dogs, things are further complicated when Nimfa discovers she is pregnant.
Playing up familiar tropes of telenovelas, Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story is a rather straightforward tale of love and betrayal. However, its overall charm is hard to deny. Through its tongue-in-cheek humour, which is full of double entendres, the film manages to weave plenty of social commentary throughout its brisk running time.
Of course, it is easy for the commentary to get lost in the silliness of it all. The medium frequently overshadows the message as one walks away reflecting on the numerous gags, such as when Roger goes into a Street Fighter style rage on Iñigo’s car, rather than the conflict that initiated them. Liongoren simply does not build up the stakes enough to make the dramatic beats resonate in a meaningful way. One is constantly reminded that this is a comedy first and foremost.
One’s mileage with the film will vary depending how much overcooked melodrama one can handle in a sitting. However, those willing to embrace its brand of humour will find much to enjoy. While not the deep exploration of modern Filipino life, Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story is an enjoyable satirical romp for those in the mood for something on the sillier side.
Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story is playing on demand at the Fantasia Film Festival