by Pablo A. Tariman
There is a resurgence of films with gay characters in local cinema and the good news is that they are finely done with no attempt to arouse the moviegoers’ prurient interest.
Some are delivered as pure whacky comedy and indeed without the redeeming moments of rare insight so difficult to come by and indeed so blatant as exemplified by a box office comedian high on hysteria and low in discernment.
Some output in the early batch of gay-themed films tend to overly explore the sensual side and the result is that it is patronized by mostly gay crowd and given cold shoulders by the mainstream audience.
But Paul Jason Laxamana’s “The Third Party” is a pleasant surprise because it has something very positive for both the gay and the straight crowd. It highlights the trimmings of conventional relationship (notably that of the character of Beauty Gonzales and her boyfriend) and alas managed to put gay relationship (that of Sam Milby and Zanjoe Marudo) in a more respectable plane minus the bed scenes and unnecessary lip services.
Superbly written by Charlene Sawit-Esguerra and Patrick John Valencia, “The Third Party” manages to inform and entertain in equal doses (there is a regular volley of shrieks, gasps and laughter from the audience) and ends with such coming of age moment you wanted to give it a standing ovation.
Apart from its well-written screenplay, the lead actors’ performances show both depth and intensity leaving no gaping hole in which one could find lackluster delineation.
Angel Locsin’s character (Andi Medina) manages to be natural and her character’s vulnerability looks really spontaneous from moments of bliss to moments of shocking discovery. In fact, she recovers easily after minor hysteria and has taken to accepting her former boyfriend for what he is. Friendship takes over the lover status and what happens after are the rare scenarios of noble acceptance so rare in Philippine cinema.
One must say that both Milby (as Max Labrador) and Marudo (as Christian Pilar) have reached a level of rapport that is at once both refreshing and commendable. They know their characters inside and out and have given them enough humanity to last a lifetime.
With Marudo as the aggressive one and Milby as the subservient partner, you can see that their characters blend naturally you are almost tempted to suspect: could they be like that in real life they didn’t have to act (and just be themselves)? Indeed, their level of acting is so real and so true one can safely say that in this project, they have given what could be the best performances of their careers.
From the supporting cast, there is also the marked performances of Cherrie Pie Picache (as Locsin’s mother) and Al Tantay (as the straight patriarch) and Matet de Leon who held her own in the tense dinner scene. This is a well-thought out scenario when a straight father is irritated by two necking gays near their table while Milby is trying to confess his gay relationship. How his father reacted gave him a real scare he decided to become father of a pregnant friend to the consternation of the character of Locsin.
A good script, excellent ensemble acting with a discreet scoring of Jessie Lasaten and sensitive direction gave moviegoers one of the most rewarding moments in cinema.
Finally, here is one millennial director who can think beyond his generation and surprisingly has an ample supply of subtlety, delicacy, humor and humanity — all in one package.
By the looks of it, his latest film deserves the A rating from the Cinema Evaluation Board. One believes this is one of his best output after “Babagwa” (The Spider’s Lair”).
“The Third Party” directed by Jason Paul Laxamana opened in cinemas last October 12 and earned P10 million on opening day.