Saturday, October 6, 2012

Bwakaw (Cinemalaya)

Movie poster
I was able to watch the limited cinema screening of Bwakaw last month at the Glorietta 4 cinemas. Bwakaw is a movie about an old gay man who does not have relatives living with him anymore. His only companion in life is a stray dog named Bwakaw (a Filipino slang for "greedy for food").

Bwakaw was one of the films under the Director's Showcase category during the 2012 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.

Bwakaw is a drama-comedy about growing old, and everyone's fear of growing old alone. Rene is a gay man who came out of the closet at age 70. Ailing in his twilight years, he thinks it is now too late for love, even companionship, and that all there is to look forward to is Death.

He has made a will, bequeathing his few possessions to his even fewer friends. Everything is packed and labeled, ready for distribution. He has even paid for a coffin, taking advantage of a funeral home's Summer Sale. Nowadays the only companion Rene has is Bwakaw, a stray dog that hangs around his house and follows him wherever he goes.

Cast (in credits order)
As Rene waits for the day of his death, he gets the surprise of his life when it is Bwakaw who suddenly falls ill and is diagnosed with cancer. Rene is surprisingly affected, and he realizes that he values Bwakaw more than he thinks. In his struggle to get Bwakaw cured, Rene finds comfort in the most unlikely person: Sol, a tricycle driver who helps him bring Bwakaw to the vet and befriends him. Buoyed by Sol's friendship, Rene starts living.

Little by little he discovers simple joys. To the surprise of his friends, he even has his hair dyed to look younger. One day, he finally decides to make a move on Sol. The revelation that Rene is gay and has feelings for him surprises and disgusts Sol. He rejects Rene and leaves in anger.

In the meantime, Bwakaw's condition gets worse. Not even Rene's ancient Santo Entierro (a supposedly miraculous statue of Jesus Christ) can save Bwakaw. Bwakaw dies, and Rene's neighbors help him bury the faithful dog.

But Bwakaw's death, even while it was still only imminent, has made a difference. Rene has found a new appreciation for life and what is most important. He decides to unpack the things that he has already willed to other people and make his house more inhabitable. He is, after all, still alive.

My take on the movie
I liked the film. It has a very heartwarming and touching story. It showed the harsh reality that some gay men experience once they become old -- being alone. On the bright side, it teaches that one may be alone literally (in an abode), but one will realize that you have people (or a dog) around you who loves and cares for you sincerely.

The cinematography was pretty good for an indie film. There were no special effects, as it was not necessary. The locations and the sets were appropriately selected to give the desired mood of the movie.

The acting was outstanding. Eddie Garcia's portrayal of an old (discreet) gay man was believable. He was consistently in character throughout the film. Armida Siguion-Reyna's acting was moving. Soxy Topacio and Joey Paras provided the much needed comic relief to  instantly bring the viewers' emotions away from the very heavy dramatic scenes.

Overall, I recommend movie lovers (gay or straight, young or old) to see this film.

Movie trailer

My rating: 85%


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