Raquela Rios is a ladyboy prostitute from Cebu City with a simple wish: To someday walk the streets of Paris. Based on actual events from Rios' life, whose birth name is Earvin, this work of fiction that's shaped like a documentary was made by Icelandic director Olaf de Fleur Johannesson and producers from Iceland, U.S.A., and the Philippines, and stars Rios herself. Her story is a geographic splurge -- New York, Bangkok, Amsterdam, Reykjavik, Cebu, Paris, and more -- a globe-trotting trip that has the easygoing flow of a fun fairy tale. Crucial to the charm are a cast of lovable supports, especially Raquela's transsexual and transgender friends in Cebu, a ladyboy internet superstar in Thailand, a ladyboy born and raised in Iceland but of Filipino origin, and Michael (Stefan Schaefer), an American owner of a ladyboy website who may possibly clinch romance with our heroine.
But the brilliance of The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela is in the sadness that shimmers underneath the fabric of hope. The film mirrors Raquela's restlessness with that of the entire Philippines: a spirit of third-world dislocation and longing. The movie lays the truth about ladyboy existence, and it cuts deep: Because she was born in a physical, material state she didn't want, Raquela will never be fully realized, even when she is already living the dream. Her place could be somewhere in the past, in myth, beyond this world.