Facile gambits, awkward staging mar gay comic’s stellar bid
Joey Paras’ stellar launching film Wenn V. Deramas’ “Bekikang,” starts off swimmingly well, with comedic gambits that delight viewers as the movie introduces its “gay from birth” protagonist and the barkada-mates (Nikki Valdez, et al) who make life more bearable for him.
Unfortunately, the production soon hits a sorry snag, a long musical number involving the song “Balut,” that is awkwardly staged and very poorly sung.
Another major distraction is the introduction of predictable kontrabida characters, as well as the skittish and nervous performance of Tom Rodriguez as the handsome but feckless love of Bekikang’s life. It’s a good thing that Paras’ sidekicks are around to help keep the giggles going, and Tirso Cruz III’s portrayal of his “understanding” father is another plus point.
On Paras’ part, he comes up with an entertaining but still focused and felt depiction of the film’s fey, gay protagonist, getting on viewers’ good side by working so hard and being indomitable and “unsinkable” even when life deals him some really bad cards.
After a while, however, even Paras’ stellar portrayal evinces signs of wear and tear, because it’s generally too consistently upbeat to be believed, or fully empathized with.
More variations and even “contradictions” would have helped make Paras’ characterization more believably flawed and human, not just triumphantly, gloriously gay!
A major plot twist is the decision of Rodriguez’s character to leave his and Carla Humphries’ love child in Bekikang’s love and care while they make their fortune abroad. Expectedly, Bekikang goes completely gaga and bonkers over his “foundling,” so when the by then wealthy couple return and force him to give up the beautiful boy, Bekikang unravels!
Final plot twist
That’s acceptable and believable, but what isn’t is the final plot twist that has the precious boy “accidentally” drowning in a conveniently available tub of water which results in his having to fight desperately for his life—thus forcing his three parents to finally make peace with each other.
How facile can a flick’s denouement get?
Due to these and other snags and quibbles, Paras’ stellar bid is not the overwhelming success it was meant to be. But his launching vehicle is occasionally diverting and crisply staged and performed, so it’s still worth viewing.
In addition, it sometimes presents a more enlightened view of the alternative gay lifestyle, especially as reflected by the attitude of Bekikang’s father—and even more to the point, by that of the foundling whom Beki has taught well, and loved.
On point of performances, aside from Paras and Cruz, the cast member who stands out, in our view, is Nikki Valdez, who plays the protagonist’s only female sidekick.
The actress is known for her effectively light-hearted portrayals, but in this movie, she’s given the more challenging task of convincingly depicting a girl who secretly loves her best friend, despite the fact that he not only loves somebody else, but is a card-carrying gay caballero!
In the hands of a lesser actress, the character would have come off as impossibly ludicrous and ridiculously stupid, but Valdez is able to make her pathos, pain and love believable—and that is no mean feat.
We deeply regret the fact that the actress, who’s also a very good singer, wasn’t made to participate much more in that sorry “Balut” “production” number, which she could have saved. Well, no use crying over spilled milk—and broken eggshells.
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