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03 August 2014

Cinemalaya 2014: "Kasal" (Film Review)

The complexities of gay relationship, the issue regarding commitment, marriage and family: these are the subject matters that “Kasal” aimed to tackle. Director Joselito Altarejos should be commended for making a film about gay love without using the theme just as a means to show attractive male celebrity “flesh,” as in the case of Joel Lamangan’s “Lihis.” 

The film skidded along melodrama but not fully crossing the line. Inevitably, incomplete characterization is the main hindrance why “Kasal” falls short on its goal. Paolo (Oliver Aquino*), the younger lover, is the character that should draw audience sympathy, but Aquino could not rise about the limits of the script, and he is still not yet experienced to deliver a more nuanced performance. 

Some of us want to sympathize or empathize with the two lovers, but there were really not enough key moments to peer into their emotional core, aside from the typical feats of jealousy and anger. There were some potentially good moments but the scenes were shots from behind, so we see more of the actors' back than their faces. In effect, viewers remained distant spectators than involved viewers. We see the two being intimate with each other. We see them discuss. We get to know their families and we get to see them quarrel. For some, that is enough. 

The first scene before the opening credits perhaps best sums up director Altarejos' point. We see the two lovers arguing behind glass walls. The conversations is slightly muted. It is it as if we are watching a show. Could it be the glass partition is another layer of the film? If so, the lovemaking scene will make sense. As the two lovers make love, another film is being projected on the wall of the bedroom. The two looked as if they were part of another film as well. The choice of the film is curiously appropriate, a mother singing with her young adult son. For the two lovers, they are playing a common scene in their now humdrum relationship. However, they cannot escape being good sons of their respective mothers, even in their most intimate moments. 

This superimposition might just be a way to brilliantly hide some shots that our censors might cut. Still, this is the highlight of the film.

In the end, I think the individual viewer will decide, and I learned this as I left the cinema. I might have felt the film is lacking but I saw the cinema janitor wiping away his tears as he looked into the screen. Hey, the film meant something to him, so I should get off my "critical high horse." I also noticed that he was not the only one wiping their tears. Some viewers cried as well. Me, well "give me peace, love and a..." You know the rest.

Reason to watch: If you are a sucker for the hurt that love gives and the promise of finding lasting love, this movie is for you. Enjoy.


(* Special thanks to one of our readers who corrected our mistake. We wrote "Carlo Aquino" instead of "Oliver Aquino." Thank you for the concern. We appreciate it.)

Which Films Should You Watch in this Year's Cinemalaya (2014)
Critics' Awards
Post-Analysis Essay (soon) 

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2013 Cinemalaya Essays
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Our Choices: 2013 Cinemalaya

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