Peque Gallaga revisits his fascination with stories redolent of his characters' unbridled passion; a familiar theme that always allows dramatic approach into the suspense genre. Like most of Gallaga’s ouvre, he tells his stories with characteristically provocative camera work. The scenes are exquisitely framed, the movement deliberate. Unfortunately, with a story that doesn't really convey a sense of exigency, it feels like the narrative has taken the sideline from the scenographic ruse. Let's take the scene where Sofia burns Trina's house: every "take" stretches on, robbing the moment off of its requisite urgency.
There are inconsistencies in characterization, particularly of Gutierrez's Ram. When a woman (Shyr Valdez) drops in at the fire station to demand for money he owed her, he doesn't think twice to "work her up" in a room with frosted window, while his workmates could hear (and see) them next door. In another scene where he gets a visit from Sofia at the fireman's quarters, he bafflingly turns into a shrinking violet, rebuffing her advances. He would shag a matron and not a beautiful French woman who pays oodles of cash for his services? "Siguro naman, kaya mong sindihan ang aking apoy," Sofia suggests. So what gives?
Richard Gutierrez postures like he usually does, but like previous efforts, he fails to convey sincere emotions, thus empathy is hard to come by. What's worse, a movie supposedly built around "passion" feels a tad frigid, which is a mystery considering the presence of Heussaff, who pulls out all the stops to inhabit her fruitcake character. The thespic palette gets better with the ladies: Solenn Heussaff plunges into her role with spot-on precision: she charms, she seduces, she turns pitiful (a challenge when you're rich, beautiful and successful), and just as easily, turns contemptible. Who would have thought of Solenn, when she was starting, that she'd turn into an instinctive, intuitive actress? These days, Heussaff does well in any genre she appears in, even in inane comedies like "D Kilabots: Pogi Brothers...Wehh". What's more inspiring, she has an enviable reputation for her impeccable work ethics.
Lahbati, on the other hand, displays unfeigned countenance. When she delivers her lines, there are no emotional excesses. Isn't it ironic that Lahbati had to come into her own when she's finally decided to desert the business? What a shame.
Peque Gallaga will always be remembered for his masterpieces, "Oro, Plata, Mata" and "Scorpio Nights". "Seduction", on the other hand, could hardly be considered a milestone in film excellence, except that 40 years after Director Gallaga's directorial debut in a film called "Binhi" (with Rosemarie Sonora and Dindo Fernando, 1973), he is still churning out movies about passion and the desires of men. This time though, he missed his mark where "sexy" is concerned.
|Sarah Lahbati and Richard Gutierrez|