Cleaners (2019)

Cleaners (2019)

A weird and wonderful coming-of-age anthology featuring classic moments in 2000’s Philippine high schools

The Very Best

8.4

Movie

Philippines
Tagalog
Comedy
2019
GLENN BARIT
Carlo Mejia, Gianne Rivera, Ianna Taguinod
78 min

TLDR

God bless the copier machine that printed out every frame.

What it's about

At a Catholic high school in Tuguegarao, different students from an assigned cleaning group learn more about what it means to be clean.

The take

In Letterboxd, Cleaners was once the highest rated film of 2021, and was once in the list of the top 250 narrative features overall before the rating system changed in 2023. To viewers outside the Philippines, this might have been mind-boggling, especially since the film wasn't yet released internationally the year it premiered, but it shot up the ranks for a reason. The coming-of-age anthology just looks so different, being filmed live, then xeroxed and highlighted, frame by frame, just like print-outs for school. The unique approach evokes a sense of nostalgia in high contrast print and blurred movement, and it's matched with the classic Filipino coming-of-age moments that has rarely been seen before.

What stands out

Whether or not the stories resonate, no one can deny that Cleaners looks and sounds so different. The unique style is obvious, but the sound was really good too. It’s distinctly of the 2000s– the Buwan ng Wika section makes it obvious with the emo music– but these tunes really were the top tracks of Philippine high schools back in the day. It’s just a nice touch to an already great film.

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