Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros: As Pinoy as You Can Get

Most people have raved about this film so I won't do that here. As usual, the awards that the film has garnered have probably raised my standards so that I was expecting more.

Still, it may be good for you (particularly those who do not regularly watch Filipino films -- there are still a few of those individuals left)to go out and spare a few hours to see this film which is not your usual Pinoy movie fare.

From the very first strains of Yoyoy Villame's My Country (pronounced as my count-ry), My Philippines as the movie started, I knew the film would be different. The viewer then follows the life of Maximo Oliveros (the gay lead), effectively played by Nathan Lopez and his family and how things get complicated with the entry of Maxi's papa-ble Victor (the policeman, played by JR Valentin).

The movie is filled with shots of the seedier side of the metropolis and references to aspects that we all encounter or hear about as part of daily life: cellphone snatching, pirated DVDs, beauty contests, inuman sa kanto (drinking sprees on the street corner), and the like. The visuals are not pretty but the ordinary Pinoy life usually isn't pretty either.

Maximo, however, is likewise heavy on family love and togetherness. Maxi belongs to a family of thugs (his father Paco and his brother Boy and Bogs) but they all get along fine and are all actually very fond of gay Maxi.

The movie has to be seen (rather than be read about) to be appreciated more. There is no convoluted story line here (as in most Pinoy drama movies) -- just a simple tale about Maxi, Victor, and Maxi's family. As you watch their story, you are given some insights about Pinoy culture, values, and even the prevailing social issues.

The film, which features no big-name star, is a delight to watch, acting-wise. All the actors do well in their respective roles with their quiet, subtle approach. No hysterics here -- just pure, unadulterated good acting. My favorite is the father Paco, played by Soliman Cruz. He effortlessly shifts from joy to anger to sorrow and is equally effective with the varied emotions. What can I say? After this movie, I am a Soliman Cruz fan.

I was also on the look-out for Ping Medina, son of Pen Medina. At first, my husband and I were thinking whether we would be able to identify him but as the movie progressed, there was no doubt about it. He looks exactly like his dad! Ping Medina played Maxi's brother Bogs and he also has his share of acting moments. The other brother, Boy was well-acted too.

So, if you have time, you may want to catch Maxi. Watch out for the beauty contest scene (complete with talent portion and Ms. Venezuela!), Maxi's and Paco's scene where Maxi tries to convince his father about leading a new life away from stealing cellphones, and Maxi's scene with Victor where Victor says: "Maraming masamang tao sa mundo, Maxi. Paminsan-minsan, kailangan tatapatan mo sila." (There are a lot of evil people in the world Maxi. Sometimes, you just have to let them meet their match.) Watch out for Maxi's reply and see how you feel.

Here's to Pinoy movies, Maxi, and Soliman Cruz. =)

[By Angelica Viloria | Monday, December 5, 2005]

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