Saturday, May 10, 2014

G.A. Villafuerte's "Harot: Puso Ang Kikirot" - The Art of Dumping

Beejay (Richard Crisostomo) is in no rush to tie the knot with girl friend Jane (Ishang Fernandez) who’s putting the pressure on him. It has been two years since the couple decided to live together, but Beejay’s career as a photographer hasn’t taken off. And Jane’s mother is getting impatient. But things are looking up. Sarah (Merrylyn Quibingco), Jane’s friend, has scheduled photo shoots with Beejay whose calendar is filling up fast. And Randell (Icer Abella, below), Sarah’s ex boy friend, has repeat sessions with Beejay to muscle up his modeling portfolio. 

One day, Beejay’s assistant Jona (Francis Cariaso) comes home with his boss’ laboratory results. Beejay is more than surprised to learn that he tested HIV positive. What bothers him more was his concupiscent dalliances with both Sarah and Randell. Has he infected Jane, Sarah and Randell? As he walks away from home, Beejay turns introspective. He tearfully asks himself: “Kung pumapatol ba sa kapwa ay bading na rin?” Seriously? He's more concerned with labels now than his medical condition.

Such ponderous moment had me laughing in stitches, I was ready to roll down the floor with overflowing hilarity. People with such mind set are usually not turned into directors or storytellers; they’re better off sent up the mountains to plant camote or okra – and even more appropriately, talong (eggplant)! Now isn't this a more productive, albeit nutritious career?

Director G.A Villafuerte cluelessly thows these fatuous and puerile lines one would expect from 4 year old kids – or anyone with an underdeveloped level of comprehension. Like other G.A. Villafuerte films, his characters have polysemous sexuality. There is no distinction between straights and homosexuals; their sexual persuasions are as ambiguous as the story teller’s capacity to shape believable characters or envision valid story lines. How else do you reconcile a thinking mind with someone who chooses to open his film with his protagonist taking a dump! Yes, the first few minutes has Crisostomo displaying his very healthy backside (as he wakes up in bed) before going to the toilet to (drum roll please) defecate! Inspiring, right? I actually thought it was going to be the requisite shower scene, which eventually and predictably came soon enough. Talk about scenographic variety.

Richard Crisostomo (above) is a relaxed performer although he isn't emotionally required to do much, not even when he learns of his affliction. The same demeanor is true where his requisite shower scenes are concerned. And, if you don’t blink, you’d see his shrunken bits. By this, I mean a degree of shriveling is evident. Icer Abella on the other hand, is more enthusiastic than competent. The two gentlemen are a study in contrast. While Crisostomo is “hunky”, Abella is “twinky”. On the other hand, Ishang Fernandez and Merrylyn Quibingco have a limited share of the spotlight. Fernandez figures in a shower scene. As I've said before, “showers” are the be-all and end-all of a Villafuerte movie. Other than that, there’s not much to discuss.

Funny things: Instead of fleshing out his story with something real, Villafuerte instead concerns himself with less important aspects, like assigning complete names for all his characters. If a pet animal was in the cast, I was sure it would have its own surname. In another scene, when Sarah related an anecdote on how a friend saw her ex-boyfriend cheat on her, Merrylyn Quibingco (who plays Sarah) quipped, "She confronted to me." She, of course, meant "confided". Where's the English doctor when you need one? There's always Tagalog, unless she was born with the Queen's tongue. "Ipinagtapat nya sa akin" - there. Isn't that easier?

Sometimes one wonders if Villafuerte ever takes stock of his body of work when not a single title from his ouvre is worth anything except as time fillers. This situation is probably like waking up one morning and finding out that all your collections weren't gold, but mounds of cow dung! Surely you can't be pleased with that situation - unless you're the fly that hovers over these stinking end products.When Villafuerte decides to open this film with his lead star moving his bowel, you realize that there's metaphor there somewhere.

Icer Abella

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