By Redentor Lagrimas Lebantino
Movie rating: ⭐☆☆☆☆
There are spoilers.
JOEL Lamangan’s My Father, Myself is this year’s oddest entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). Oddest in bad ways it is. As unabashedly as the film tells its story, ‘bad’ is just as straightforward.
The film revolves around an unconventional family headed by Robert (Jake Cuenca) who adopts Matthew (Sean de Guzman), the son of his deceased gay lover, and takes care of him like his own flesh and blood. Matthew is warmly welcomed by Robert’s wife Amanda (Dimples Romana) and daughter Mica (Tiffany Grey). There seems to be no complication, until the film’s screenplay treads on the absurd, the kind of ridiculous that forgets the basics of characterization. The film does not temper itself and moves forward in pursuit of shock value, which only turns to utter derision.
Laughable at best
How the events progress makes the film laughable at best. Mica develops a romantic interest in Matthew as they grow up and become lawyers. He does not feel the same but she seduces him at every chance she gets, even in public. He eventually gets her pregnant and Amanda approves. Robert does not because he is jealous. He is obviously in love with his adopted son.
The family dynamics get to the point where Robert’s sexual desire for Matthew needs to be consummated, especially when Matthew admits to him that he feels the same. But before this happens, Robert still manages to play a game. After knowing about Matthew and Mica’s affair, Robert gives Matthew a hard time at the law firm where the latter is hired as an associate. The film suddenly becomes a lovers’ tale utilizing seduction masked as hate, where Matthew is forced to confront Robert until they end up in bed.
The film’s third act brims with dramatic scenes. Jake Cuenca looks like a hungry actor making the most of his screen time. He takes every scene too seriously that his voice sounds like a 19th-century duke immersing into the formality of his status. Sometimes, he is a lover whose romantic pursuit is culled from a wily character template, like this is some Mexican telenovela capitalizing on camp and revenge.
Lousy direction, shallow script
Lamangan pushes the narrative with a lousy direction. There are shots that come from awkward angles and some scenes look like the characters act from anticipated cues. The script also deprives them the depth they deserve. It’s funny how they play around a premise they do not seem to understand, pursuing loosely-motivated actions.
How specific members of the LGBTQ+ community are depicted in this film is also utterly thoughtless. There is apparently no attempt at elevating their place in a film narrative. Instead, they are reduced to subjects making mockery of themselves.
Pointless at worst
The inclusion of Dimples Romana in this film seems off, she being a reputable actress in her own right. How could she have said yes to a project that makes her play a character of ambiguous moral stance? She gets to a dramatic high after a series of absurdities she just watched unfold. Who could empathize with a character made to be embroiled in such mess?
In the end, all that have happened reach a pointless conclusion. Love is expressed in a letter and forgiveness is offered at a cost worthy of sneer.
About the author:
Redentor Lagrimas Lebantino
He is a published author of Language and Literature textbooks and has been an editor for more than a decade. He writes film reviews and volunteers as a facilitator for a counseling center.