August 5, 2014
Sherwin (Arnold Reyes) is a lawyer who dealt with annulment cases. Paolo (Oliver Aquino) is an indie film director. They had been in a relationship with each other for the past three years. When Oliver suggested for them to take what they had to the next level and get married, Sherwin insisted that same-sex marriage will never fly in the Philippines, all the while dwelling on an episode of infidelity by Paolo which happened a year ago.
One day, the couple go to Sherwin's hometown to attend the wedding of his teenage sister Mary Jane who got impregnated by her similarly teenage boyfriend Bong. Before, during and after the wedding ceremony, Paolo and Sherwin see more clearly how they stand in the public eye, and make very important decisions about their own relationship.
Arnold Reyes plays Sherwin as very pragmatic and logical. Oliver Aquino plays Paolo as the more emotional and sentimental partner. These two guys performed well with and against each other. It was good to see 90s sexy nymphets Maureen Mauricio and Rita Avila now playing mothers of Sherwin and Paolo, respectively. I was impressed with newcomer Chloe Carpio who plays the young bride Mary Jane. Her scene before the wedding apologizing to Sherwin and that scene during the exchange of vows were both short, but her performance was memorably infused with so much emotion.
This film tackles love and commitment in the context of a homosexual couple, but such issues also hold true for any couple, gay or straight. In fact, we have seen this same story in various incarnations with various characters, in both local and foreign films. This is a very universal conflict that no one group holds exclusively.
However, there is still the closet to contend with in gay relationships, especially in the Philippine setting. The pointed homily during the wedding Mass drives home that stigma.
However, the best aspect of this film is its direction. Director Joselito Altarejos takes the sensitive script he has co-written by Zig Dulay and brought it to life with innovative visual technique. We listen in on a couple arguing through closed window panes during a rain storm. We bear witness to a couple fighting via a scene shot through the back window of a car. We have seen so many wedding videos in real life, but Altarejos manages to capture these simple rural matrimonial rites and all its attendant traditions in radiantly dramatic and evocative camera angles, right up to the touching ending. 5/10.
I confess I did not really plan to watch this film. I had a choice between this film and another film entitled "Asintado". Reviewers had not been kind to "Asintado", one even going on to say that it was the worst of all the entries he had watched. At the last minute, I decided to watch "Kasal" instead.
Knowing that this had a gay theme, I was apprehensive about watching this film. I was hoping that nothing too graphic would be shown until I saw the R-18 rating. That uncomfortable scene would be shown in the first fifteen minutes -- a bold lovemaking scene not hidden under the covers, obscured only slightly by lights and shadows of a movie (starring Boots Anson-Roa!) being projected over them. This scene was in one long continuous take.
Anyway, after that scene was done and over with, the rest of the film was actually a very good discussion on various aspects of relationships, love and commitment, thus being pertinent to audiences of all preferences. I personally thought they could have done without that sex scene and still not lose the messages it wanted to convey.