Mar 28, 2010

[Movies] Ang Lihim ni Antonio (2008)

Ang Lihim ni Antonio (2008)I don't get to watch LGBT-themed movies as much as I used to, probably because of the very busy worlds of science fiction and fantasy movies, TV shows an comics that take up most of my time. It's not that I don't like LGBT movies - they are often interesting in their own right. It's really just a question of priorities and where I end up deciding to spend my time.

Now when it comes to local LGBT movies, I have really, really mixed feelings. I'm not quite sure when it happened, but a few years ago our Indie movie scene became dominated by the LGBT movie genre, as if homosexuality makes for a classic indie topic automatically. What's worse, it's rarely about the happy times and the good parts of being gay - these movies tend to focus on the darker side of homosexuality. Seriously, we have some pretty depressing coming-of-age stories.

So yeah, I felt this fell into that latter darker category.

Ang Lihim ni Antonio (Antonio's Secret) is a Filipino LGBT film about the story of a young boy named Antonio (Kenjie Garcia) who's starting to come into his sexuality while living alone with his mother (Shamaine Buencamino). This is pretty much the first half of the movie, culminating with the ever classic molesting-of-a-friend-pretending-to-be-asleep sequence. In-between there's a lot of scenes with his fellow teen friends talking about sex and eventually joking about homosexual behavior and so the sleeping with friend sequence becomes key.

From there the movie changes in tone with Antonio now coming to terms with his sexuality now that he's actually experimented with another young man. Things get complicated when his uncle Jonbert (Josh Ivan Morales), whom he finds majorly physically attractive, comes over to stay with the family for a while. The two have to share a bed while he is living with them and Antonio finds himself constantly righting his hormones with his hedonistic uncle present.

Why it took 100 minutes to cover a plot this basic is what makes this an attempt (and emphasis on that word) at being a more artistic piece. There's a lot of extended cinematography involved with taking focused shots on various objects, people and actions to a degree that eliminates the need for the viewer to draw these inferences for themselves. Plus with a story this, well, typical, you can imagine how much of the movie feels like filler.

Kenjie was decent in his acting and I guess borderline cute / physically interesting, although he really is young and it's very hard to see him being active sexually. I guess he'll go far in drama acting, but will probably get typecast as a confused teen for a bit more. Then again, I could be completely wrong since I don't really follow the careers of local actors. The other actors aren't all that notable other than the uncle, who was definitely physically impressive but not in an above-the-neck kind of way, mind you.

The movie was long, but what was worse was that it felt very long. Plus it had a pretty depressing story to tell. It's the kind of movie that doesn't really contribute anything meaningful to improving the image of the LGBT community beyond the misconception that (1) gay teens are going to molest their straight friends in their sleep, (2) uncles who sleep in their underwear despite sharing a bed with a 15 year old boy are bound to be evil and (3) really young kids can suddenly start talking about gay concepts and theories right out of Wikipedia. Oh yeah, that all makes sense.

Ang Lihim ni Antonio gets 2 indie LGBT movie tropes out of 5.

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