REVIEW: Richard Gutierrez, Sarah Lahbati and Solenn Heussaff have a dark love triangle in Seduction

Peque Gallaga's Seduction is a mixed bag. On one hand, you have a story that's unique and remarkable. Yet the talent of the cast is lacking, so the script does not realize its full potential.

Seduction tells the story of a firefighter named Ram (Richard Gutierrez), who is knee-deep in personal problems. His dad needs a kidney transplant, but he does not have the money for it. On top of that, he gets suspended for soliciting money from fire victims. Then comes Sophia (Solenn Heussaff), a sophisticated woman from Paris whom Ram saves from a hotel fire. When Sophia recovers, she tries to make it up to her savior by lavishing him with cash gifts, and even sex. For Sophia, she has no reason to live if Ram is not there for her.

But Ram has fallen for Trina (Sarah Lahbati), who owns the house where Ram is a boarder. So he decides to cut relations with Sophia, who is devastated. Pretty soon, Sophia gets even, and chaos ensues.

The story is written by Aloy Adlawan, an accomplished scriptwriter and director himself. It is markedly different from other love triangle tales that inundated Philippine cinema in the past year, as this is several shades darker. In Seduction, brash decisions result to deaths and destruction, instead of the usual and overplayed slaps and witty insults.

Director Peque Gallaga succeeds in translating Adlawan's story into film. The award-winning filmmaker, who recently received a lifetime award from Cinema One, has crafted a stunning film in Seduction. The cinematography looks crisp and the production design looks polished, even during the fire scenes, which are hard to shoot. Despite all the positive elements going for it, Seduction still feels lacking. And the blame could lie on the cast members who tried hard but are not quite there yet.

Richard Gutierrez's lead performance, for instance, is uneven. While scenes where he conveys anger show promise, he still has a certain reservedness—making it look like he does not own the role completely. The angst just feels tacked on.

Sarah Lahbati, meanwhile, does her best but her age and experience betrays her. The role needs a more mature approach, and Sarah can only meet it halfway.

Only Solenn Heussaff gives a commendable performance. She plays her Sophia credibly, excelling even while depicting the dark side of her character. She should play more risky roles after this one.

All in all, Seduction showcases a good story and good direction. The talent, however, does not quite back these up.






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