Saturday, September 8, 2012

Bwakaw

♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Mang Rene (Eddie Garcia) is retired, cynical, and gay. He continues to work for the post office anyway for lack of better things to do. His acerbic tongue brings nothing but squabbles with other residents of the sleepy town where he resides. Coming out of the closet quite late in his 60’s, he has no family to support him. His only companion in his old house is his dog Bwakaw (Princess), a stray Labrador retriever  that he decides to adopt. When not playing verbal judo with his beautician best friend (Soxie Topacio) and his loud cross-dressing assistant (Joey Paras), Rene takes time to visit an old friend (Armida Siguion-Reyna), his ex-girlfriend of fifteen years, in a retirement home. He also frequents the parish church to hand over his repeatedly revised last will and testament to the town pastor (Gardo Versoza). When the dog is eventually diagnosed with terminal-stage cancer, Rene’s life starts to fall apart, but begins to pick up again through his secret admiration for tricycle driver Sol (Rez Cortez).

This movie combines two elements that serve as a good foundation for an endearing movie: old person and dog. Come on, stories about old people and animals are almost always a hit. Let those two join forces and you would not go wrong, especially with a storyline like this one where a truckload of socially-relevant themes ranging from old age and death all the way to companionship are tackled with all due subtlety. Beneath all the laughter comes certain realizations triggered by the many small moments in this movie that just force you to reflect on life in general.

There are many instances in the cinema when everyone would just laugh out loud, and the good thing about it is the observation that the roaring laughter is actually involuntary, as evidenced by the loud gasps and attempts to catch some air, with others even squeezing in some “Oh my God” for disbelief of what they have just seen and heard. The humor is intensified by Garcia’s offensively witty quips that know no boundaries. Add a little dose of violent streaks and you have a rather dark comedy that will always catch you off guard. Garcia plays his role con mucho gusto that you just could not help but shower him with praises. The supporting cast members do not disappoint either, and many moments are stolen by the gay beautician assistant played by Paras through his character’s loud demeanor.

There are several moments of slapstick, but the main source of humor is the tactless dialogue that would just crack you up, as well as the irony in some scenarios which are highlighted just enough for one to take notice, but not stretched out of its limits to the point of absurdity, as is common in most local comedies that we have had as of late. It is a brand of comedy that is not contrived and draws out lots of laughter stemming from genuine enjoyment. You do not have to force yourself to laugh at all, as it would come naturally. And that is the strength of this movie.

The dog is not really the central character, but perhaps its name was chosen as the title because it would be more catchy. Besides, calling the film ‘Rene’ would not be as attention-grabbing. In spite of this, we could say that the dog actually plays a pivotal role in the evolution of the old man’s character, and thus deserves some form of distinction, not to mention that the said canine is so good that it could easily act circles around some ham actors that we know.

As a moviegoer, perhaps you would learn to appreciate your canine friend better after watching this movie, but on a more personal note I would say that the bond between master and animal should have been explored more to have such effect. What would probably leave a stronger impact are the prevalent issues of old age, living life, and death, which are all tackled here without being too preachy. This is definitely one of the better Pinoy movies that have come out this year, and there simply is no reason for you not to include it on your must-watch list.

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