Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ang Lihim Ni Antonio (Antonio's Secret)

Josh Ivan Morales and Kenjie Garcia

It's the story of a gay 15-year old and the random events that happen in his life. That's all there is to it. A falling out of friendship after drunken sex; coming out to another friend; living with a compassionate but broken mother; reaching out to an absentee father; and the arrival of a hunk uncle. The plots don't exactly bleed into one another in a satisfying, cause-and-effect, or thematic fashion. Collectively, they paint a portrait of a coming of age that is incoherent, and maybe that's the point.

Antonio spends a lot of time asking questions in his head. (We hear them as voice-overs.) It's an existential journey that ends in senseless tragedy -- where else? (The ending is a gay twist on the classic Insiang.) Maybe, the movie is saying, the meaning of life -- and of being gay -- is that it doesn't mean anything. It's a strong statement in our age of self-importance, when, in an increasingly liberated environment, we make so much fuss about our sexuality.

The movie's main fault is that it doesn't really make us care about any of this. Antonio is a walking empty shell. None of what he does, or what happens to him, seems to have any gravity. What keeps us watching is not that he's interesting, but that the occurances are familiar to us as gay men who've been there before or at least heard stories about it. Sure, I giggled at the memory of wearing somebody's used underwear on my face, but what was so special about that scenario, really? I got tired of scenes unfolding without distinctiveness or consequence. I stayed on my seat mainly because I already know uberstud Josh Ivan Morales will eventually flash his hefty manhood and that he will finally do it with cute newcomer Kenjie Garcia. It was just a matter of when.

Lihim was created by the same team as last year's sensational Ang Lalake Sa Parola, but it lacks that film's central provocative idea and the dirty allure of exploitative filmmaking. Lihim takes a more serious (read: dry) approach (just look at mother Shamaine Buencamino's serious acting), but doesn't have the serious meat with which to fill it. It's unremarkable cinema that gets by on expectation.


Related Links:
Director Jay Altarejos Says It Tackles the Loss of Innocence and Abuse
Other Gay Bloggers Review the Film
A Female Blogger Reviews the Film
Review of Ang Lalake Sa Parola (Rated R-18)
Review of Ang Lalake Sa Parola (Rated X)


gibbs cadiz said...

"It's unremarkable cinema that gets by on expectation."

Bravo! sharp insight, fine turn of phrase. :)

Anonymous said...

I knew you didn't like it that much...but I didn't realize that you didn't like it this much. :P

I was almost sure you would give it a B- just for the nude scenes. Haha.

andrew said...

Please watch this upcoming film by Jowee Morel, the same Director who made "Mga Paru-parong Rosas" and "When A Gay Man Loves" under Outline Film Production entitled "LATAK" (Residue). You can watch the full trailer at

When a young director Andrew Locsin discovers the cruel betrayal of his lover and friends, his vice triggers a destructive entanglement of his dark past.
An ordeal that was haunting his unconsciousness and graphic
memory, surfaces. Thrown into a mix of spine-chilling hallucinations and paranoia he comes face to face with the mysterious ghosts of a mother and a girl. With no one to trust, the demons in his nightmares appear in his fight for survival in a horrifying doomed reality.
Extracted from a tumultuous true to life events, the film will take you into the dark side of grim reality.

Marc Jacob
Zach Urdaneta
Mercedes Cabral
Chanel Latorre
Pia Millado
Special Participation:
Chito Alcid
Tia Pusit
Boy Villasanta
Directed by Jowee Morel