Thursday, February 28, 2008
Paolo Rivero and Coco Martin
In the movies, put two people in an enclosed space and you can expect high tension that is ultimately a dissection of their relationship. The sneaky surprise of Daybreak -- about a gay couple in an empty hideaway mansion in Tagaytay -- is that it isn't so much a trajectory of emotions as it is one complete encapsulated moment. No explosive turning points, no overt character arcs -- the narrative isn't much -- but as a snapshot of two men on the eve of a breakup (Coco Martin the boatman player and Paolo Rivero the married doctor), in which they cook, eat, talk, fuck, dance, shower, sleep, and fuck some more, Daybreak plays out like a protracted sigh of goodbye. It's a fart, but it's a beautiful fart.
Director Adolf Alix Jr., with cinematographer Albert Banzon, capture the serene luminosity of sterile interiors, but the best images are of the two actors in passionate liplocks. Those are some of the hottest Pinoy man-to-man kisses ever committed on screen. Coco Martin and Paolo Rivero are extremely evocative in their most physical gestures (heads side by side in a slowdance; playing with unwanted food; the bare-butt lovemaking and the tiny movements in the morning after) that when they dialogue, the power seems almost insufficient by comparison.
Someday, an enterprising critic might analyze our fascination with gay pairings from opposite economic backgrounds. (Is there a political undercurrent to this? Why is rich-poor a sexually enticing proposition?) Or someone might explain to us the dramatic significance of a top turning bottom. (How much an act of love is submission? Why are bottoms presumed to be submissive in the first place?) Daybreak is only one of several recent films to capitalize on these story elements fast becoming cliches.
But the question most pertinent to Daybreak is the position of gay relationships/marriage in a larger society. Isolated from the rest of the world, a gay relationship can be a beautiful, powerful thing. But with a wife or a girlfriend or a lifestyle of multiple partners waiting outside, why does it seem natural for gay affairs to take a backseat in priority? In its quiet way, Daybreak asks us to rethink the way we value homosexual relationships. When two men love each other, what good reason is there, if any, to break them apart?