Emilio Garcia and Allen Dizon, with Raymond Cabral in the background
Like Paupahan or Booking before it, writer-director Joven Tan has made another movie about fame-seekers on the bottom rung of showbiz – this time in TV news, same potato. The face-off between two men desperate for recognition – a washed-up reporter (Emilio Garcia) and the rebel leader he interviews (Ian De Leon) – should be the stuff of sizzling drama, yet their verbal spats fizzle because they don’t seem to be arguing about anything concrete. Does this rebel even have an actual plan other than to be seen on TV?
Once again, Tan’s characters are simplistically drawn as victims or abusers to supersize his favorite didactic message: that the media don’t really care about human beings. It’s hard to ride with the sentiment when there’s not much to believe in the first place. The director has seldom been a practitioner of subtlety, but Tutok is his least convincing film yet.
Allen Dizon plays Garcia’s loyal cameraman – with unspoken hints that he may be in love with his friend. Both actors prove they’ve graduated from former beefcake status by not once removing their T-shirts. Likewise, Victor Aliwalas remains clothed as a network drone. The token display of flesh comes courtesy of Raymond Cabral, as a goody from the enemy side, in one blink-and-you-miss-it flash of nudity. But I hope no one’s calling this a gay movie just because the insurgents turn out to be sodomizers.