Saturday, December 17, 2011

4Some - An Unfinished Tale of Sexual Confusion

Angelo (Isakhani Duckert) and Danny (Marklen Salazar Trinidad) have been buddies since they were children. They’re two peas in a pod, each one privy to the affairs of the other. While Angelo is reticent and circumspect, Danny is brash, sleeps around and wears his machismo like a prized trophy. He is also an unabashed homophobe. If a guy gives him the eye, Danny flies off the handle. One day, Danny refuses to accept Angelo’s calls. In fact, he shuns him altogether.

Angelo is distraught. Last time he saw Danny was during his girlfriend Bea’s (Pauleen Subido) birthday celebration where they were joined by Danny and his girlfriend Lyn (Jhoy Ortiz). After a round of drinks, they found themselves changing partners; Angelo is kissing Lyn, while Bea cavorts with frisky Danny. Bea, sprightly and peppy, spikes their drinks and before they could spell “bourgeoisie”, a full fledged orgy has commenced. It’s become a free-for-all revelry. During the course of their footloose sexual bacchanalia, the unthinkable happens. Angelo goes down on his friend Danny, something that he claims he doesn’t remember much. Shivers.

The succeeding days are hard for Angelo. To de-stress, he goes to a bar by his lonesome where he meets Sandro (Jeff Luna) who joins his table and pays for his drinks. The night turns friendlier when Sandro invites Angelo to his place. When Angelo is downed by his inebriation, Sandro makes his move, eventually sodomizing the helpless Angelo. “Masasanay ka rin,” Sandro appeases his reluctant date.

But this throws our protagonist to pits of depression claiming “Sira na’ng buhay ko,” moping as though someone stole his virginity, further dramatizing it: “Buhay ka pa nga pero patay na ang pagkatao mo.” Instead of turning to Bea, his girlfriend, he seeks the help of Lyn, Danny’s girl, who herself is in a bind – she’s really in love with another girl, Vanessa, who turned out to be a romantic partner before Danny came into the picture. What becomes of these confused souls?


Director Han Salazar spins a Machiavellian tale that reeks with superficial strife, but when you dig deeper, it leaves you wanting. The film making skill displayed here isn’t all that bad, but it’s no great shakes either. Having said that, we’re at least thankful it isn’t the moribund state proudly exhibited by most pink films typified by Crisaldo Pablo.

Once again, there’s a problem with inattention to details in weaving the story. In fact, this is quite palpable as the film draws to a close. How so? Let’s get back to the narrative.

Angelo works as a sales representative (a salesboy) for Automatic Center. But as we closely follow him around, we find out that he stays in a well furnished high rise condominium unit with a fantastic view of the metropolis. How can he afford such luxury? Do salesboys really earn that much? Someone tell me fast lest I could consider a career change. But then maybe, Angelo hails from a well heeled clan. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case either. To appease himself from his “heartbreak”, he resigns from his job and visits his folks in the province. His parents live in a bamboo-and-wooden shanty and they look like they haven’t seen the face of luxury at all. When his younger brother finds him, he is asked, “Ano’ng hitsura ng Maynila, kuya?” Poor kid. He probably hasn’t seen the face of television either. Yet Angelo wallows in the luxuries of a high rise abode and late night bar visits to unwind. There is an obvious inconsistency by way of lifestyle, right? Maybe he’s just a selfish schmuck? Fat chance. Angelo is angelic; he is conscientious, and aside from having a gorgeous face, a sinewy waistline and rippling abs, he is among his employer’s top salesmen.

Isakhani Duckert is conspicuously atypical as a name for a local lead (he plays Angelo), and Duckert is perfectly cast for the role. He is good looking, tall, and physically graceful. He has expressive eyes. More importantly, he exhibits vulnerability necessary for empathy – someone who dotes on his best friend; one who is attracted to the latter. Had he been less credible, it would have completely dragged down the film. Even Marklen Trinidad, playing the alpha male Danny, carries his misogynistic and homophobic character with bountiful verve, you feel fear for the next gay man who steals a glance at him (he punches a guy at the urinal for giving him the look). Trinidad however verges on caricature because there was no adequate playback that explains his nature. Stories have to offer motivations for its audience to inspire affinity.

Jeff Luna does a cameo as the schemy Sandro who takes advantage of the drunken Angelo. He returns to the screen gracing it with his strong presence and, by this time, a familiar and characteristically droll monotone delivery.

I have problems with the ladies in the cast. Pauleen Subido, who plays Bea – Angelo’s aggressive girlfriend – is ill advised and misplaced. She wears a blond tress that at most times looks like a wig – or a costume in a Halloween party. Whenever she is shown working at the appliance center, you would wonder why she never wore the uniform like the rest of the employees. She’s always scantily clad with her high heels and elongated detachable nails, you’d think she would suddenly turn tricks at the nearby corner. Sexiness shouldn’t necessarily translate to “tacky” and more importantly, slutty. Jhoy Ortiz tries harder, but is hobbled by inconsistent characterization and the superfluous narrative detour concerning her lesbian lover. She succeeds to be sympathetic in some scenes, but in others, her attack feels light or insincere. These girls are more concerned with attires and accessories, with curled down manes and painted lips, than investing in tenable emotions, sadly turning a dramatic feature into incomplete sketches of what-could-be.

There is an inconsistent depiction of Duckert's character. If he indeed thought of his "rape" or urges as a form of death ("Buhay ka pa pero patay na ang pagkatao mo"), why did he allow himself to get picked up by a complete stranger? Do straight guys habitually join other males straight out of a bar - as a fraternal act, perhaps? At Sandro's pad, he allowed to be stripped naked - and there was a consensual kissing; unless that was a dream sequence, which it wasn't. The effect of alcohol doesn't necessarily make you do things against your will. In fact, it removes your inhibitions. It allows you to act up on those compulsions. In another scene at a urinal, he actually grabs someone else's genitalia. Forgot imminent death? LOL

The most blatant slice of inattention occurs towards the end. After Angelo visits his barriotic folks (after quitting his job) whereby he fails to find closure, he once again turns to Lyn. He knocks on her door, then he embraces her, saying, “Nahihirapan na ako!” End of story, you better believe it. That won’t even fit into the category of an open-ended conclusion. It unceremoniously ended, and if you don’t call it “unfinished”, I don’t know what could more appropriately explicate it!

The intention of the film is quite obvious and predictable, i.e. to get the guys in bed and have them flash their wares. The females have become sideshows. It’s a pink film with no impulsion of laying down anything that transcends sexual proclivities and orientation.


There is an adequate slice of erotica too, with Marklen Trinidad throwing caution to the watchful wind. As he cajoles with Pauleen Subido, his anatomical pride peeps elegantly - and steals roars where there should be a mere peep. Yes, honey, there’s flattery borne out of countable inches. The gorgeous Isakhani Duckert is a little bashful where full frontals are concerned, but his face alone is a pleasant sight to gawk at. But yes, he shares a few don’t-blink moments too. The girls themselves are quite generous, occasionally thrusting their inflated mammaries towards the camera. And there’s a sizable chunk of backsides on display from the cast. As you can see, if nudity is your mere criteria on what a “good movie” should be (I know someone who rates films according to the number of genitalia on display), then Han Salazar’s “4some should merit – at the very least - a nomination for the year’s “Best Picture”. Stranger things have happened. Five-star territory. Wehhh!

Lyn exchanges spit with prodigal lover Vanessa.

Isakhani Duckert

Isakhani Duckert

Marklen Trinidad

Jeff Luna

Jhoy Ortiz

Pauleen Subido, Isakhani Duckert and Jhoy Ortiz

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