It’s tragic that Heavenly Touch, a movie set in the massage parlor sex business, relies too much on clichés for its drama: the story of a rookie who enters prostitution, the suspense of a violent authority figure, the misery of poverty in the homefront, and the romance of two people from the victim class. It’s a movie made straight from the Lino Brocka school of third world sex films. But it all could have been watchable had director Joel Lamangan, working from a script by Enrique Ramos from a story by Manny Valera and himself, bothered to consider the emotional flow. Events happen and characters move, but damn if we can connect how or why. The scenes aren’t alive; they’re mere bullet points in the outline. When Paolo Serrano and Joash Balejado engage in a threesome with Gwen Garci, it’s just three people in a shower. Only later do we learn, through dialogue, that there was supposed to be sexual attraction between the guys.
Heavenly Touch is not as fun as DMV Entertainment’s previous sensational sexploitation flick, Walang Kawala, but it’s amazing what this production company can get away with in nudity, while their contemporaries suffer the MTRCB’s hyperactive scissors. Maybe there’s politically-motivated conspiracy. Or maybe the censors don’t like it when movies actually make us feel something, while they forgive those that treat sex like decoration.
Two things save this movie from being a complete waste of time. First, the sprinkling of minute details of massage clinic ins and outs, such as masseur woes and quirky clients, which seem to have been inserted directly from research. If you thought 2006’s Masahista didn’t reveal enough of this hidden world, then you might walk away with Heavenly Touch feeling a little more informed. Second, the sexy men. A bevy of good-looking masseurs kibitz in white briefs in the background. Paolo Serrano is a fiery kisser. Marco Morales flashes his junior (yet again). And so does the film’s lead, Joash Balejado, a youthful, sensitive face with a godlike torso, who makes his screen debut. I’m excited to see more of this actor, hopefully in a better film.