If the poster, trailer, and even the title for Sa Pagdapo Ng Mariposa make it seem like a removed enigma that doesn't want to explain itself, that's because the movie is a genre-bender difficult to describe without giving away the tasty surprises. The offbeat drama -- about a caregiver who falls in love with his patient -- keeps careening into demented, high-concept territory, right unto its twisted ending, and that's what makes it a pleasure to watch.
If only it were more skillfully made. If you can't quite dig into the scenes, blame the simple lapses in filmmaking judgment and weak mounting. Why do the women in the cast appear eerily the same age range? What is the deal with the longplaying pop rock jukebox that sucks out the emotion of every other sequence? Despite dynamic camerawork, action and dialogue are occassionally stiff. Often, the movie feels like a blueprint for a movie than an actual movie. Of course, you can say the same for many of the low-budget, underpolished features coming out these days; it's just that this one is interesting enough to wish for more exact hits.
What lifts the pulpy material are the two extraordinary lead actors. Marcus Madrigal, as the paralyzed former sepak takraw athlete, is still convincing as a twenteen, and still as sexy-cute as if he were still in softcore ten years ago. The real star, however, is Josh Deocareza, who inhabits his nurse in early scenes with a soft saintliness and just the right clues of psychic pain bubbling underneath. It's an expertly measured balancing act. What he does, almost magically, is to thread the bumpiness of the film with the gradual self-destructing desperation of his character, even though, when you think about it, the profile written for him is sketchy. His is a striking, intelligent performance that would have been brilliant in a more realized film.