Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. Philippines, 2005. Gee Films International, Centerstage Productions. Story by Brillante Mendoza, Boots Agbayani Pastor, Screenplay by Boots Agbayani Pastor, based on an original story by Ferdinand Lapuz. Cinematography by Timmy Jimenez, Monchie Redoble. Produced by Ihman Esturco. Music by Jerrold Tarog. Production Design by Benjamin Padero. Film Editing by Herbert Navasca. 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.