A really good try
When we first heard last year that Vice Ganda was planning to star in a film that would require him to play a set of quadruplets made up of four genders (boy, girl, gay, tomboy) we thought it was a brilliant but risky move on his part.
If he succeeded in pulling the very difficult thespic feat off, it would be a decidedly bright feather in his cap, and would leave the stellar competition with mouths agape. But, if his achievement fell short of being spot-on convincing, it would have a “TH” and anticlimactic feel to it.
Well, the deed is done, “Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy” is one of the top hits in the Metro Manila Film Festival, but Vice’s multiple portrayals have chalked up, not overwhelming, stop-the-presses raves, but only “really good try” marks. Nothing to pooh-pooh away, but decidedly less than he had hoped for!
What seems to be the problem? First, the challenge was a most difficult and demanding one, so anybody would have found it really tough to convincingly pull off.
Second, Vice’s director, Wenn V. Deramas, didn’t push him hard enough to make each of his four sibling characters distinct and unique enough to impress the heck out of viewers.
Having said which, we should say again that, all told, Vice’s gallery of gender-bender characters definitely comes off as a really good try.
Let’s break it down on point of plus and minus points: Given Vice’s “officially gay” show biz and performing persona, the bakla sibling is his least challenging assignment. Interestingly enough, his most impressive characterization is the “boy” sibling, because the gay actor is able to essay him by convincingly creating his macho counterpart, seemingly a young man to his very core.
Even more admirably, he’s able to play it straight without exaggerating the young man’s maleness—he’s just a guy, period. The artistic judgment that Vice demonstrated here was insightful and spot-on, and it should be singled out as his best piece of characterization.
Vice’s “Girlie” characterization is also a standout, with the blonde, sexy, Fil-Am cutie coming off with a kittenish allure—and, with convincing bosom and curves! Vice sometimes can’t resist the temptation to lay it on a bit thick with this sexy bombshell, but still without descending into farce.
The weakest characterization of the lot is the “tomboy” sibling. For a while there, we can’t even figure this person out, until “she-he” is given a sexy, liberated girlfriend.
Truth to tell, there are many kinds of tomboys, so Vice could have made his choices clearer by more astutely focusing on a specific T-bird persona and adding more details to flesh his character out.
Not enough time and effort devoted to observing detailed tomboy activity could have been the culprit here, and this could have been where the actor needed the most help and “tough love” handling from his director.
Still, three out of four isn’t bad, and in fact is “a really good try!” But, imagine what would have happened if Vice’s success in achieving his tough objective came off as a complete triumph? Everyone would be singing his praises, instead of just encouragingly patting him on the back. Maybe next time?
But, which four characters would Vice be able to essay next to prove his amazing versatility? The Four Evangelists? The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Which?!