›› 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten ‹‹

a film by Petersen Vargas.

2016 | 95 mins | Philippines.

a gripping mix of sexual longing and nefarious intent.

Dave says:

Determined that his impoverished social standing is not going to stand in the way of a good education, Felix (Khalil Ramos) has become the top boy in his class, if not the entire school, having sacrificed both a social life and friendship to become the model pupil. Not that a lack of friends troubles him, given his view is that he's never met anyone worth befriending. That is until new boy in class Magnus (Ethan Salvador), alongside his younger brother, if only by a year, Maxim (Jameson Blake) arrive. Known as the Snyder brothers of half-American / half-Filipino birth, Felix appears at first hesitant and then overly keen to let the boys pay him to help them with their failing grades, much to the detriment of his own studies. Yet in aiding their dreams of escaping life in the Philippines with results that they hope would all but guarantee a reunion with their absent father in America, it becomes apparent to Maxim that Felix is not only gay, but in love with his brother. It's a knowledge that Maxim opts to use to his advantage as the relationship between the boys turns decidedly dark, with Magnus and his mother caught in the middle of a game of cat and mouse that can only but end in tragedy.

Set in the late 1990's in the City of Angeles, Pampanga, this film is one of those works that you just know is not going to end well. But knowing that, director Petersen Vargas in his acclaimed debut feature still manages to lull you in with the seemingly sweet tale of a high school loner falling for the bad boys in class; a theme that's as old as the falling in you with your straight best friend scenario. Yet this is far from your typical downward spiral piece, given it's a gripping mix of sexual longing and nefarious intent. And whilst the Blake / Salvador pairing offer fine support, complimented by the work of Ana Capri as the boys' mother with a chequered past, the star of the show remains Khalil Ramos who beautifully conveys the emotions of a young man coming to terms with his sexuality, if not his first love, whilst equally resolved that his penurious background is not going to hold back his true potential.

Delivered diary entry fashion and complete with a number of surreal scenes that are indicative of the twists and turns of the plot, this wondrous feature is enhanced by the fine cinematography of Carlos Mauricio who makes extensive use of the location, including some quite stunning shots of the devastating aftermath of the very power of nature itself, even if his sterling work is somewhat limited by the 4:3 aspect ratio of the piece.

Sure, there's some negatives in the mix. But that said, it's good to see a gay feature from the Philippines that's not afraid to walk a different cinematic path from the standard masseur styled narratives and in doing so, proudly push the envelope of Filipino drama in a fresh and daring direction. Frankly, need more be said?

›› available as part of NEW QUEER VISIONS features catalogue.
›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› posted: Thursday, 29th October, 2020.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - bare-arsed cheek. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 

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