The Masseur (Masahista) (2005)

BRILLANTE MENDOZA

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5Philippines, 2005.  Gee Films International, Centerstage Productions.  Story by Brillante Mendoza, , Screenplay by Boots Agbayani Pastor, based on an original story by .  Cinematography by , .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Film Editing by .  Toronto International Film Festival 2005.  

Brillante Mendoza investigates the exploitation of Manila’s handsome young men, who earn money in brothels that masquerade as massage parlours. One boy in particular performs his duties amid flashbacks to his father’s funeral, the preparation and rituals juxtaposed with very little subtlety against the images of him rubbing down his clients. Some very sexy scenes highlight this relatively short film, but as with much of Mendoza’s work, it stays in first gear and never actually goes beyond presenting a situation. There is neither narrative nor emotional development, though thankfully the characters are sympathetic and investing in them does not feel like a cheat.

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