MOVIE REVIEW: Porno is an assault on the senses


Angel Aquino is cast as a transgender in Adolf Alix Jr.'s film Porno.


True to its title, the Cinemalaya 2013 entry Porno is unapologetic about the unabashed display of the human body, highlighting parts that serve as porn actors' money makers. The sound of human fornication mostly serves as a soundtrack that will echo through the theater halls and within the viewers' minds.

Porno is bold, shocking, and to some viewers, an assault on the senses. But like most films that capture people's attention through risqué elements, it attempts to tell a compelling story underneath the brazen theme.

Directed by Adolf Alix Jr., Porno is one of those movies with multiple lead characters with their respective storylines but are interconnected through a unifying element. It opens with a long scene mimicking a "sex scandal" video, reflecting its rawness, grit and the element of voyeurism. Part fantasy, part thriller and a lot amateur online porn, it is not easy to see the connection of this prologue to the entire movie.

Yul Servo appears in the first part of the trilogy as a hired assassin performing both his personal and business transactions inside a motel room. Together with Rosanna Roces, he is shown in cinematic coitus minus the beautified safe shots, slow motion and sax music that defined the sex-movie boom Roces led in the late ‘90s.

Nevertheless, the soft lights and the muffled sound of the motel made it a dream-like sequence, almost poetic, open to interpretation and pregnant with meaning—one of which is that one never knows whether the things that happen within the four walls of motel rooms are real or not.

Former child star Carlo Aquino shows his sexy, horny side in the second story wherein he dubs porn videos. He is cast as a pornography professional who's neither up the ranks nor at the bottom of the porn industry food chain. He's a victim but he also victimizes. He's neither here not there—he is trapped in the middle.

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It's much like his storyline in Porno. At the end of Carlo’s segment, nothing is resolved. Maybe there's just nothing to resolve to begin with. The story ends abruptly, and whatever happens next is uncertain.

The third part seems to be the most interesting with Angel Aquino playing a transgender who sired a son in her previous life. At first, it is difficult to believe what the film wants the viewers to believe: that Angel's character used to be a man. But such is the effectiveness of the actress that in the end, you are convinced that she is not a natural- born female.

With visual elements from the first episode and sound from the second, the final episode tries to wrap everything up, but not tie it tight. This storyline conveys a hollow and empty feeling that pornography and all other life's pleasures try to fill up, albeit temporarily.

Again, Angel's episode ends abruptly and bizarrely, and it's almost baffling. Many questions from all the storylines are left unanswered, but it looks intentional.

There are movies that are so open-ended you end up thinking of the correct or at least a proper ending, then you realize that the movie never really finished. Porno is one of those films.

Porno, the Cinemalaya entry, really mimics the good old pornographic clips—often called bold, smut, XXX, scandal, etc. The adult-film actors may begin, go on and on and conclude with a climax, but the viewer just moves on, begins again and repeats the cycle. Even with the predictable outcomes, porn movies never run out of patrons because we are never ever really finished with them.

The intention to tell a story is in the movie Porno, and it is evident both in form and content. Somewhere in the cheap, dirty and addictive surface of badly-made pornography, there is a deeper story.

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At first, Porno seems to be a movie about porn movies and the people in them, but it is more a movie about the people who patronize them.



Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.



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