Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Masseur (Masahista)

Reprinted courtesy of Sean C. At the Movies

I had been losing faith in Filipino cinema in recent years, mostly due to the work of Crisaldo Pablo. He has given the cinematic world such gems as Doubt (Duda), Bathhouse and Circles (Bilog). These films remind me of a Filipino versions of Richard Anthony Films projects Traveling to Olympia, Revenge in Olympia and Slice of Terror. All of these films are pseudo soft-core porn/erotica with very weak stories and very uneven acting. But The Masseur is different.

The story is of a young man who works in a massage parlor to earn money for his family who live in a suburb. The day before his father dies, he has a client who crosses his professional boundaries and make him re-examine his entire life.
This film was both sensual and engaging. The physical intimacy between the characters was not gratuitous, but instead realistic. It provided a framework of strangers in the night looking for a moment of human connection. This connection is in sharp contrast the the distance that exists between the protagonist and his father. A distance that is ironically shortened since death.

I want to thank director Brillante Mendoza for restoring my faith in modern Filipino queer cinema. I am looking forward to his future projects to serve as a counter balance to the works of Crisaldo Pablo.

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