Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dyagwar - When Happy Endings Are Alright

Sid Pascua’s “Dyagwar: Waley o Havey” is a modern, albeit light-handed take on Lino Brocka’s noirish masterpiece “Jaguar” (1980) where a security guard (Philip Salvador) feels trapped in an amoral world of grim consequences.
The story follows cousins Ruel (Erick Fructuoso) and Manuel (Boom Labrusca) who, as security guards, take turns manning a residential compound run by obese crossdresser Shamcey (Chiokla Gaston). Ruel, who’s streetwise and resourceful, takes the night shift while Manuel, naïve and righteous, takes over during daytime. From sun up to sun down, Ruel and Manuel observe and interact with the tenants.
A philandering husband (Alex Calleja) takes his mistress home when his wife (Marissa Sanchez) is away. Me-an, a kept woman is on short leash from her influential – and very married – benefactor, Mr. Miranda. Blushing virgin Wendy is being primed by her slimy boyfriend (Randolf Stematelaky) for the sexual picking, while eternally cash-strapped Mark (Arran Sese) harbors a crush on scantily clad Wendy. Meanwhile, prostitute Krissy (RR Enriquez) couldn’t bring herself to sleep with “the old and the ugly” leaving her penniless most of the time, and with no client to speak of except the occasional “quickie” she gets from Ruel who’s harboring a crush on Me-An.
When Ruel becomes a local hero twice over (he accidentally catches robbers every time he shags Krissy), Me-an warms up to the “brave and mighty” security guard. One night, Ruel takes Me-an to her bed while Mr. Miranda, her elder lover, is away. Meanwhile, Krissy finds the timid Manuel pleasuring himself while on guard. As a consequence, Krissy (who’s partial to good looking guys) helps the reluctant Manuel. In comes the testy landlord Shamcey who’s been eyeing the handsome guard for a while. What follows is a hilarious scene where Manuel gets serviced by his hidden guest while Shamcey turns suspicious. To make matters worse, Mr. Miranda arrives without warning and catches Me-an and Ruel en flagrante delicto... with a handgun readily cocked. Later that morning, the cunning Shamcey blackmails Manuel, put up or Shamcey reports him to his security agency for his sexual dalliance on the job! What’s a guy to do? Would he acquiesce and give in? Will Me-an and Ruel meet their Maker? Will the philandering husband get caught? Will low-flying Krissy mend her ways? Will Wendy ever look Mark’s way? There is one easy answer. Guess.

The busy narrative takes advantage of an able and adorable cast, most of whom make the most of their screen time with copious vigor and energy. The stories woven together by the two security guards are episodic, occasionally running like sitcom. You feel that some scenes were designed to needlessly showcase a talent (e.g. Marissa Sanchez’ protracted rant when she eventually caught her husband). At times, the scenes dryly unravel; you’d wish they used the “edit button” judiciously.
With a collaborative script written by 3 minds (Ogie Diaz, Boom Larbrusca, Sid Pascua), it’s easy to see why the narrative begs for focus. In fact, some strings become redundant (wife catches philandering husband; then angry elder benefactor catches kept girl and her lover). Boom Labrusca delineates his naivete with endearing charisma, it’s easy to root for him. Fructuoso’s easy ways and sardonic grin beautifully complement with Labrusca’s gingerly disposition. RR Enriquez makes an inspired and attention-catching performance that carries humorous moments although she needs a little more finesse to be truly believable. Volume or cursing doesn’t a character make.

Dyagwar” isn’t your high-art flick. Its film-making skills sometimes feel trite and indistinctive. But it grows on you. And though it rests on fast resolutions, the way main stream movies do, it’s hard to deny its entertainment value. In fact, when Manuel finally hands Mark’s “allowance” and even helps out a border from getting evicted despite having been blackmailed and sexually molested earlier, we were aware of its orchestrated exigency, but we didn’t mind. Life goes on despite the harrowing things we have to go through. We had a smile on our face.
Sometimes, happy endings aren’t always so bad.

Philandering husband (Alex Calleja) and scorned wife (Marissa Sanchez)

Eric Fructuoso (left), Sid Pascua (director/center), Boom Labrusca (right), and executive producer and writer Ogie Diaz (standing)

Arran Sese and former PBB housemate Joe Black

Arran Sese: Isn't he a cutie?

THANKS to Ogie Diaz, co-writer/producer  of "Dyagwar", for his mention in his column at Pinoyparazzi.com.


Chiokla Gaston (right) reminds us of iconic tranny Divine; here with RR Enriquez and Boom Labrusca.


Anonymous said...

thank you for the encouraging review of "dyagwar." right now it is being viewed for a possible entry in the noncompetitive division of cinemalaya this july. also, we're very happy to share that viva films signified interest in releasing my first indie before the year ends. we've been addicted to your blog every since. you're funny, relevant, scathing but someone's gotta draw the line, right? anyways, we'd like to personally thank and get to know you; have coffee and exchange fun pleasantries. how can we hook up? pls email me at santarono@yahoo.com and jhonab@yahoo.com.

Cathy Pena said...

@ Santarono/Jhonab:

Thanks for the kind words ("scathing"...? haha)

Congratulations are in order for all the good things going Dyagwar's way. I enjoyed that movie, thus the review.

I would take you up on that invite one of these days. My schedule doesn't allow me right now, but will email you when things clear. I have a backlog of 7 films to write and "light" is nowhere in sight, so to speak. :)

Congratulations again. If mediocre films like "Huling Halik" made it at the Cinemalaya festival before, how can Dyagwar not get a screening there? Good luck. :)