Janice de Belen leads the way
Gerald Anderson’s career has been marked by more noticeable shifts in image than usual for a young comer like him. Many other young male leads stay at the “boy next door” level for years; Gerald has, thus far, also intermittently “gone action” and now has made a really big move towards “dramatic” stardom —by way of his retardate role in his new TV starrer, “Budoy.”
Make or break
Other male stars have beefed up their dramatic credentials by also playing characters with a mental deficiency. But, most have done so only in individual telecasts or movies. Since “Budoy” is a teleserye that will run for months, Gerald’s lead retard role is local show biz’s most detailed, and extended to date, and could literally make or break him.
We caught some early telecasts of “Budoy,” and our sense is that, at this early stage, the gambit could go either way for the young actor.
On the plus side, he has agreed to alter his features so he’s believable as a “differently abled” young man. He’s also able to project the child-like innocence that is his character’s most appealing and empathic trait.
Being a child at heart and in mind, Budoy is an easy victim for bullies, as well as a magnet for good people’s instinct to protect, defend and love vulnerable waifs.
On the other hand, we get the feeling that Budoy’s level of retardation, at least as far as this production initially depicts it, is too vague or imprecise for viewers to get a firm handle on his disability —and, therefore, the extent of his need to be helped.
In some scenes, he is almost incoherent, but in others he expresses himself fairly well, depending on the objective of those sequences. Greater consistency in this regard would therefore be appreciated.
Interestingly enough, at this early stage, the most exceptional performance in “Budoy” is turned in, not by Anderson, but by Janice de Belen as his surrogate mother. The new drama series benefits greatly from having De Belen play her pivotal role, because the actress has the vast experience and innate sensitivity and warmth to make her scenes with Budoy moving and memorable.
It’s instructive to note that De Belen played a TV waif for years (on “Flordeluna”), so she knows how those handkerchief teleseryes operate.
But the quality and affective worth of her portrayal go beyond TV smarts—they’re more the result of her acute “emotional understanding” of her character’s own loneliness, thus her ability to feel for and with the “reject” she’s chosen to mother.
Another early standout is ZsaZsa Padilla as Budoy’s real mother, who spends many years looking for her estranged son. We can hardly wait for the requisite confrontation scene between the two mothers.
Clearly, Gerald has his work cut out for him to level up with his two veteran costars.