Martin Escudero portrays a conservative gay man, Kaye, who struggles with the various prejudices in Philippine society in the Sinag Maynila 2017 entry Ladyfish.
Brenda Mage is his transsexual friend, Bonn.
The message of this movie directed by Jason Orfalas is clear: that there is too much hate, stifling hate in this world, against the LGBTQ community. The story is based on real-life people. Despite this, this indie film leaves much to be desired.
Whereas each scene should build on the previous and move the story along, many of the scenes seem to not have a point. The humor sometimes falls flat, though some of it is edgy too.
Situations toe the line of lewdness and threshold of tolerance.
For example, there is a scene when moans and groans are heard behind a curtain, then a goat’s bleeping. Kaye slides the curtain to reveal Bonn in a compromising situation in front of a laptop, surrounded by a sex toy and a goat.
Another scene has JC’s character making out with Martin’s Kaye on the bed before a proposition is made that JC pee in front of the gay who then proceeds to drink the golden shower, so to speak.
Following on the heels of the multi-awarded Die Beautiful, this more low-key and more flat-footed portrayal of the tightrope that gays in our society face, suffers in comparison.
Even the timeline of Ladyfish can be confusing, with some passage of time occurring without much explanation. Whether it’s due to the writing or editing or both, the movie becomes episodic, or a compilation of scenes and anecdotes collected from research.
The lead and supporting actors play their roles well, including JC Santos as a man who dates Kaye.
Martin Escudero has played a gay man before, and looks and moves very convincingly.
Brenda Mage also reins in and resists delivering a screaming-gay performance.
Even child actor Brix Julian who plays Brenda’s son, Bjorn, is promising and natural.
For an hour and a half, the movie takes too long to get to the point that it had already stated early in the story.
Ladyfish, one of the five full-length entries of the 2017 Sinag Maynila Film Festival, is being shown in SM Megamall, SM North EDSA, Gateway, and Glorietta 4 until March 14, 2017.
Ed's Note: The 'PEP Review' section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial team.