Friday, December 21, 2012

Gerardo Calagui's Marcie - Squalor Inspiration

There isn't much Marcie (Rain Javier) wouldn't do for his friends: Lolita (Savannah Lamsen), who operates a small parlor, and the closeted Benson (Kurt Lander), the barangay captain’s effete son. Marcie seems contented with his life in the slums. At sundown, he moonlights as a cross dressing street walker who peddles sexual services to the passing vehicles of a tenebrous alley.

One night, he gets caught by miscreant police officers who then took turns to sexually assault him. Like a heaven sent, Makoy (Eugene Tejada), a police asset and, more importantly, Lolita’s sexually ravenous boyfriend, rescues Marcie inside the precinct. After Makoy’s intervention, Marcie is set free. Grateful to the taciturn gentleman, Marcie vows to repay for Makoy’s help. As fate would have it, Makoy becomes the convenient fall guy for the lost stash of drugs retrieved from a drug bust operation. The asset suddenly becomes the prey.

Marcie steps forward by taking Makoy to a safe place, a “tambakan” (repository) of used cars in an otherwise abandoned lot; a valid option before running off to distant Sorsogon. “Walang pumupunta dito,” Marcie offers. Makoy is holed in an empty bus that quickly becomes his half way house. When Lolita’s at work, Marcie attends to Makoy’s needs. But Makoy's confinement soon turns into desperation. He needs a companion. Life of a pursued fugitive isn’t a walk in the park – and it gets lonely.

Makoy gradually falls for the attentive Marcie – and they eventually share the concupiscent bed. The accidental couple turns serious. In fact, Makoy turns green whenever Marcie leaves for work. What becomes of Lolita who’s clueless of her boyfriend’s burgeoning relationship with Marcie? Elsewhere, Benson’s dilemma is escalating. His abusive father (Brylle Mondejar) gets so frustrated with his son’s “wayward” sexuality, he employs the iron fist whenever Benson acts up. Can Makoy hide in the dump site forever?

Benson and Marcie

Marcie dolls up for work.

Erroneously marketed as a Pink Film by virtue of a transvestite protagonist, Director Gerardo Calagui’s tale boasts of a valid story replete with well defined characters from a script by Mark Duane Angos. On cursory glance, despondent characters sweep the narrative tableau as they ride their apathetic lives. As we follow their journey, we realize there's more to Calagui's tale. In E.M. Forster's book “Aspects of the Novel”, he deftly defines the proper nature of these individuals, dispatching them as “round characters” because they’re “complex and undergo development”. Marcie maybe a benevolent soul, but he isn't immune to attraction and seduction. He laments about his choices, but is powerless over them. He is a flawed individual yet he regrets about his inability to overcome his weakness. Rain Javier (first seen in Cleo Paglinawan’sS.R.O.”) is a revelation as the cross dressing hooker. In "Marcie", you find his emotional investment.

Eugene Tejada is likewise a natural. He moves without a hint of cloddishness. This is good news considering this is just his second feature film. He was in Paul Singh Cudail’s elementary effort “Kubli”. Tejada is gifted with an inherent charm that grabs your attention as his image saunters through the silver screen. And it helps that he's easy on the eyes. Savannah Lamsen’ Lolita is underwritten. In fact, for a good part of the story, you wonder what happened to her. But the former “Fear Factor” contestant and FHM model could do well in character roles.

The movie doesn't exactly conform to the mold of a Pink Film as we know it: there is no unnecessary shower scenes requisite in these exploitation flicks and the plot is far from being thread-bare. Sure, Tejada figures in a pumping scene with Lamsen, but this is integral to defining his relationship with Lolita. Moreover, the scene isn't unnecessarily amplified to provide extended exposure of the actor’s bits and pieces. Even Tejada’s moments with Javier – or Javier’s fellating scenes with Mark Gonzalez, playing the sexually frustrated Albert whose wife fools around because he is incapable of fathering a child, are duly clipped.  

"Marcie: Ang Pag Ibig Ba ay Short Time?" maybe viewed as a defeatist's fare, but there's something inspiring about the recalcitrant human spirit. What else is left to do when we've tried everything yet we still fail. Life goes on.       

Benson (Kurt Lander) hides from his father.

Dustin Jose plays one of the police officers who sexually assaults Marcie.

After  a harrowing first meeting, Albert (Mark Gonzalez) becomes Marcie's regular customer.

Jeffrey Santos plays the police chief in pursuit of the lost loot of shabu.

Friends share a meal together.

Intimate moment with Lolita and Makoy.

Marcie joins lonely Makoy.

The barangay captain (Brylle Mondejar)

Eugene Tejada as police asset-turned-fugitive Makoy

Savannah Lamsen plays Lolita.

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