Sunday, September 15, 2019

Cuddle Weather

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

After a successful transaction, long-time prostitute Adela (Sue Ramirez) ends her birthday in yet another motel room. Barging in uninvited, she tries to lure Ram (RK Bagatsing) in for another round, not knowing that he himself is a call boy new in the flesh trade. After discovering that they belong to the same sector of society roaming the streets of Poblacion at night, he decides to follow her around and ask for tips on how to up his market value. Not in need of a burden, she ends up with him anyway when he is recommended by one of her pimp friends as her paid cuddle buddy. Soon, she lets him move in and pay rent in the condition that their relationship will remain platonic and that he will not take advantage of her. As his newly-found career starts to skyrocket with one successful referral after another, she on the contrary mulls over the possibility of retiring after almost a decade in the business.

The formula for this kind of movies is usually the opposite, with the guy being the dominant character and the girl being the insufferable ball of optimistic sunshine whose naivety just chokes the hell out of you. They reverse the roles here, and in so doing, allow Ramirez to shine and claim the movie as her own. This is not to say that Bagatsing doesn’t offer a convincing portrayal of his role. Maybe it’s a simple issue of uneven character exposition?

Adela drops one line that is rather striking: There is no sadder person than one who has lost all desire for anything or anyone in life. Deep. Maybe she sidelines as a philosopher during the day? It’s true, though, and it’s not rocket science to be honest. You don’t have to be in the flesh trade to enjoy this narrative. You just need to have goals, expectations, and deadlines, just like everybody else. The details thereof are nobody else’s business but yours. But we can all relate to the universal appeal of those concepts.

Cuddle Weather is not anywhere near the vicinity of the term groundbreaking. Heck, poster aside the material itself is not even that risqué to begin with. We’ve seen movies about prostitutes and gigolos tackled with more grit and abject poverty porn that pander to their respective target audiences. What I enjoyed about this film, though, is how it plays around with its narrative’s ironies: of prostitutes literally paying for intimacy; of prostitutes literally paying for love or affection; of prostitutes who can’t seem to follow the rules that they have established themselves.

Let’s not forget that this is still a romantic comedy in the first place and they just chose the prostitution angle as a hook. As such, debates on whether this is some sort of glamorization of the trade are rather moot. This is not even a pseudo-documentary for consideration at festivals abroad. The movie has good mainstream crossover appeal, though, perhaps thanks to its stars, or maybe because of the taboo theme that it chooses to focus on.

But then again, it just so happens that Adela and Ram are the very concept of prostitution personified. Perhaps the message the story is really trying to convey is that we’re all prostitutes, one way or another. I'm an employee prostituting my skills to a company that’ll immediately replace me if I drop dead tomorrow. You’re in a relationship prostituting your emotions in hopes that they'll eventually be reciprocated. We’re specks of dust in this universe prostituting our existence in pursuit of that ever unattainable purpose in life. Now, aren’t we all?

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