Film Notes
by Pablo A. Tariman

With the vague title and a one-liner after, it is easy to see what “Echorsis: Sabunutan Between Good and Evil” is all about.

Alex Medina and Kean Cipriano in "Schorsis." Commendable acting rapport.

Alex Medina and Kean Cipriano in “Echorsis.” Commendable acting rapport.

The “sabunutan” (hair pulling) part gives it away as another outing into the gay milieu and you had better be ready to wade through riotous scenes punctuated with gay lingo.

The movie characters and some parts of the screenplay have the ring of the blockbusters of Vice Ganda with some ensemble of actors pretty much like the latter’s confidants.

But with the opening scene of the gigolo named Carlo (Alex Medina) with his first victim ready for a night of lust, you get the drift that the film is indeed different.

Here you see the especial touch of screenwriter Jerry Gracio who introduces the gold old poetic lines of Pilipino as spoken before cyberage.

Medina’s endearing lines to his “loved” one recall the pure Bulakenyo Tagalog of the 1920s and indeed the actor gives it the slant and credibility it deserves.

But delivered in the present time with good acting, that pure Tagalog of the olden days is pure nostalgia trip into the world of romance before the computer era.

That language gave the gigolo of Medina an aura of truth and respectability. Indeed the making of the character of Carlo by Medina is made of stunning stuff. He can lure, he can sizzle and he can hoodwink and still look like a saint. Every moment of this actor with his willing victim is good acting defined and well-delineated.

Alex Medina and John Lapuz. Another variation from the theme:  "there is no fury like a lover scorned."

Alex Medina and John Lapuz. Another variation from the theme: “there is no fury like a lover scorned.”

As for Kristoff played by John Lapuz, the acting is several notches higher than his previous gay roles. He is clearly a woman trapped in a man’s body but it is a complicated set up as his mother (Odette Khan) belongs to the old school and the father (Menggie Cobarrubias) is a military man.

Lapuz manages to get rid of some acting clichés and comes up with a solid character trapped between tradition and coming to terms — with his gender.

Lapuz’s love scenes with Medina have the ring of subtlety and a hint of satire.

Kristoff is willing to give love another chance and Carlo will do everything to give his future bride a grand wedding – all at his expense.

But he’d soon realize Carlo’s ardor is, to use the present parlance, only for pang-ekonomiya and he goes home to his romantic lair with his loved one gone – with his 500,000k and his refrigerator.

To make the story short, he commits suicide but not before making a vow summed up as “there is no fury like a forlorn lover scorned.”

On the week of the wedding, the spirit of Kristoff takes over Carlo’s body and here the comic riots begin. The gigolo of Medina starts to spout the gay lingo, he starts going after good-looking men and tries making love to them in public. He succumbs even to the most obnoxious swain in the barrio — to the shock of his mother.

As expected, his bride ended up running off with another man.

But in the process of exorcising the “bad” spirit, Carlo has an encounter with a childhood friend (Kean Cipriano) who is now a priest. The relationship is rekindled and the spirit of Kristoff only had one demand: that he (Cipriano) admits his true gender to his convent colleagues. He did — sparing his loved one from more acts of vengeance.

In another revealing moment of the film, the acting tandem of Cipriano and Medina brings with it another chapter with which one can appreciate their acting rapport.
Directed by Lemuel Lorca and written by Jerry Gracio, “Echorsis” has its share of restrained riots enough to keep its audiences guffawing.

Poster of “Schorsis.” Some fairly good writing and the theme of love and forgiveness in the gay milieu.

Poster of “Echorsis.” Some fairly good writing and the theme of love and forgiveness in the gay milieu.

Like it or not, the entire movie is a brilliant tour de force for Medina who dominates the film with his natural brand of acting.

Indeed the most endearing quality of his acting is that everything he does in this film is real.

For another, the film manages to have a quick look into the closeted gays in the convent and the bigotry practiced therein.

As it is, the film entertains and at some points, it illumines.

It has the pathos of the old Brocka film on the theme of gayhood. Its theme of forgiveness at the end gives it a hint of spiritual renewal enough to make evereyone realize that nobody is perfect in this worldly setting.

“Echorsis” — directed by Lemuel Lorca and written by Jerry Gracio — is now showing in cinemas.

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