Saturday, December 8, 2007

Maling Akala

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Victor Basa

The movie kicks off in classic romantic comedy fashion: Boy meets girl in a bus, the pregnant girl suddenly goes into labor, the boy is mistaken to be her husband, and they decide to uphold the lie, all the way unto the girl's rural hometown. It's all very pleasing, funny, and convincing, but what really motors the comedy is a twin mystery: Is the boy a criminal-on-the-run? And, Is he gay?

SPOLIER AHEAD! He's gay. The press releases don't hide the fact, so it's not exactly a spoiler, but part of the pleasure of watching the comedy lies in the ticklish way the movie only hints it, withholding the confirmation till the very end. It's also its sly genius. In asking us to be involved in the "love" story, with the usual sturcture and pratfalls of the genre, but also pushing us back to say don't get too comfortable because the guy could be a homo, Maling Akala is really inviting us to pick apart the mind of a certain gay guy. And okay, the girl too. The movie, although entertaining in familiar ways, is actually a thoroughly modern, original double character study: of the woman who falls for the gay man, and of the man who's embracing a new self as a means to escape -- not only the chaos of the city and the crime he committed back there, but also the nature of his sexuality. Although he doesn't seem to be in denial about his homosexuality (and this is refreshing), he is in a different kind of gay crisis: How is he to practice this sexuality, especially with the convenient alternative to pose as someone straight? And what is it at the core of many gay men everywhere that drives us to consider a relationship with a woman when clearly it isn't our preference? The movie is more progressive yet also subtler than it appears. It's practically essential viewing.

Victor Basa, model-turned-hearththrob-actor, is himself the subject of the big is-he-or-isn't-he controversy in real life, and casting him in the role of JP, the man-with-a-mystery, only adds to the movie's playful allure. His JP is easily one of the most fascinating and fully-formed gay creations in Philippine cinema. I do wish there were more visuals of the one-and-only man-to-man sex scene (we hardly see it) and more of the country hunk he's fooling around with, but that's the horny me nitpicking.

GRADE: B+

Related Links:
Victor Basa Shrugs Off Gay Issue
Victor Basa Screen Test
Full Movie Trailer
Movie Teaser

2 comments:

cynic123 said...

in all fairness, Victor seems to know how to act already. His acting comes across as natural and it seems the character was created for him.

i'm quite curious to see this movie... maybe i can get vic to invite me to go :)

ibarra said...

thanks for your review. glad you like it!

Maling Akala along with the rest of the Cinema One Originals' finalists will be shown late January 2008 at the Cine Adarna in U.P.