Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lucas Mercado's Hiram na Ama - Lipsticks, White Briefs and Natural Insemination

Baguio City - Ross and Peachy (Brando Madrigal and Angel del Rio respectively) are a young couple who learn a day before their wedding that Ross has azoospermia, a medical condition where a male doesn’t have a measurable level of sperm in his semen. This is associated with sterility – the inability to bear children through natural means. Distraught, the couple turns to a physician (Dr. Lito de la Merced) who advises on artificial insemination; an anonymous sperm donor is required for the procedure.

One day, Ross meets Rico and Bimbo (Ian Mencias and Luigi Romero), two chirpy, but cash-strapped college freshmen. Not an hour later, the three guys become fast friends. Ross unravels his dilemma and, in the process, recruits two willing sperm donors. He hands them a thousand bucks each (a donor will supposedly fetch P20,000 for his “uncomplicated and professional” services) – without even getting their full name, mind you – then he runs back home to inform his wife.

Unfortunately, there’s another hitch: Ross realizes that he couldn’t afford the expensive procedure. So he hatches a plan: the whole baby-making scheme turns au naturel! He pays the guys 50% of the agreed rate, then the two guys get it on with the enthusiastic young wife! To render participatory role, Ross even joins the sexual syntagma. “Para naman maramdaman kong meron akong partisipasyon,” he enthuses. Convenient, yes? Will Ross and Peachy succeed with their plan?

Brando Madrigal and Angel del Rio as young couple Ross and Peachy

Like most of his movies, director Lucas Mercado grapples in the dark while he laboriously expounds on his incipient idea. He navigates his narrative with blind skills and tentative exposition. What’s more tragic is how spare he paints his cinematic canvas with vacuous motives and one-dimensional characters as clueless as he is. To accommodate the requirement of the Pink genre, Rico and Bimbo intermittently turn gay whenever they’re in the privacy of their room, which they share! In fact, if you’re that part of the population who considers genital sighting a mark of quality film making, then you’re in for an “excellent movie”. Ian Mencias, now rechristened Jeremy Ian, somehow mimics a slumbering snake, if you won’t blink for 10 seconds! LOL

The actors – heavily made up in every frame - sleepwalk through most of their scenes. When Brando Madrigal implores the heavens for a miracle (he constantly prays at the Grotto), he might as well recite the alphabet; at least we could relate to that than his gibberish! It doesn’t help that sound is mostly drowned out by either noise or unregulated music. Yes, there’s a degree of sacrifice where auditory sensation is concerned too.

Romero as Bimbo and Mencias as Rico

Film editing is none but a brainless calisthenics. Some scenes are recklessly misplaced. Consider this: You see Rico and Bimbo inside their room, half naked on their bed. The next frame cuts to another scene where the guys arrive from class, while they “report” to their landlord (Dr. Wally Perez) who dispenses “maternal” words of wisdom. Cut to: both guys, once again on their separate beds; Bimbo is preoccupied tintinnabulating his “bells”, oblivious to his friend just an arm stretch away! Once Bimbo finishes, Rico follows suit! How swell! No pun intended!

The camera work is horrendous. When Madrigal delivers a line (with Burnham Park’s lake behind him), the camera struggles to linger on his face which remains unfocused throughout his spiel. We instead get to see fragments of people boating behind Madrigal’s mug! Isn’t camera proficiency basic in a visual medium like cinema? Or has professional cinema made mediocrity acceptable? Of course we know the answer. It’s pure rhetoric. We just needed to stress the futility of it all.

Then there’s the thick accent of Ian: “May prublima ka ba?”, “Ayaw ku ng alak, di nakaka sulb ng prublima!”, “Di dapat kilala ang dunur”, “Tutuu, kilangan namin ng pira!” While his character hails from the south, there’s stark carelessness in the execution of scenes, like they were in desperate rush before the world is decimated by an oncoming moon in the vein of Lars von Trier’sMelancholia”!

Even the doctor (Dr. de la Merced), who’s heavily made up – donning a thick paste of blood red lipstick - is prone to such distracting accent: “sperm washing” becomes “sperm WASSING”! If you thought you misheard it, he shall repeat it again for your peace of mind – “SPERM WASSING”! Oh Jeeves! The insightful doctor was going to perform the procedure (artificial insemination), but when asked how much it would cost the couple, his reply: “Hindi ko alam!” I almost broke my lovely nails as I gripped my arm rest in utter disgust. If you’re not the authority, what were you doing there in the first place?

What’s this movie doing in a commercial cinema anyway? This remains an inscrutable mystery.

Ian Mencias is now Jeremy Ian. The film was in the can as early as 2 years ago.

Luigi Romero


Anonymous said...

just a little info/trivia: dr. dela merced was the director of the movie. his pseudonym is lucas mercado.

Cathy Pena said...

Mygoodness! That really surprised me. This "physician" has no right directing and acting in a movie at all! How can a "doctor" be so brainless? It's shameful to such a noble profession. :(

ethan h said...

The movie is certainly a complete waste of time. Did you have to bother making a review of it?

Cathy Pena said...

@ ethan h:

Unfortunately, this blog "tries" to document ALL - good and bad - local commercial films that get shown in the country. This is the raison d'etre of this blog.

Michael said...

I could not agree more to everything that you have said in this film review. Despite laughing at how incredibly stupid this film was, I can't help but feel sad and disappointed yet again for another failed attempt at portraying the Filipino gay male.

Cathy Pena said...

@ Michael:

Pink Cinema is doing the modern gay man - a mostly intelligent, artistic and very successful demographic - a disservice. If one isn't gay, you would think - after watching these films - that Gay Artists in the Philippines are all idiots! It is sad! :(