For the movie Bes and the Beshies, director Joel Lamangan and screenwriter Ricky Lee come together to create a comedy based on the lives of four women.
The film opens with Charla (Ai-Ai delas Alas), a happy-go-lucky single mother still hoping to reunite with her ex-fiancé who promised to marry he and then left her.
As the film progresses, moviegoers get to meet the other three leading characters: Mabel (Zsa Zsa Padilla), the “martir” housewife who endures the pain of having a philandering husband to keep her family whole; Tisay (Carmi Martin), the mistress who allows herself to be devalued by her rich lover on whom she depends for upkeep of her expensive life; and Sophie (Beauty Gonzalez), the aspiring beauty queen with a loud personality and dirty mouth, who never seems to win any pageants despite her best efforts.
Sophie finally triumphs in a beauty contest with her winning answer in the Q&A portion that encapsulates the whole premise of the movie: how women manage to withstand the pain inflicted by men.
Bes and the Beshies presents relatable women issues. There’s Charla raising her son on her own while keeping the memories of a past love alive. There’s also Mabel who accepts her wayward husband. The four women find strength in each other to confront their problems and move forward, which served as the film’s saving grace.
Despite being in the midst of veteran stars such as Ai-Ai delas Alas, Zsa Zsa Padilla, and Carmi Martin, it was Beauty Gonzalez who stood out among the four “beshies.” Her character has an extremely strong personality, and Beauty fully embraced the role without being over-the-top. Portraying the pretty yet crass girl may be hard for some, but not for Beauty. She might have cursed all she wanted, but there was no doubt she managed to charm the audience.
As for playing the scorned mistress, leave it to Carmi Martin to amuse her audience. She delivered her punchy one-liners with conviction, turning the audience to root for her despite her flawed character.
Bes and the Beshies has its highs and lows, with the lows consisting of problematic dialogue and storytelling. The film’s premise was clear from the start: there are women who choose to be dependent on men for emotional, psychological, and financial support.
Bes and the Beshies may have intended to put women at the center, but instead, it sent out a dangerous notion of what feminism is: being a never-ending cycle of enduring the pain men give.
This premise was carelessly handled in the Q&A scene where Sophie passionately declared that women were the stronger sex because they can continuously take in the pain that men give them. Her answer earned loud cheers from the crowd.
The concept of rape was also loosely tackled in the film. Allan Paule plays a transgender character named Wilma. When he was still a man, he used to live with Charla, Ai-Ai’s character.
For a topic so sensitive, Wilma ever so lightly mentioned that Charla raped her way back when they still lived in the province. Then—after bringing it up—the rape incident was brushed aside as if it were just another petty issue.
When it comes to the dialogue, Bes and the Beshies faced several dilemmas, from normalizing sexist jokes to brushing off sensitive topics.
For a movie with a PG-13 rating, this type of content might not be too suited for your sons’ and daughters’ eyes and ears.
Bes and the Beshies may have missed some marks in its comedic efforts, but part of the film’s saving grace is the LGBT touch.
The scene where Charla’s son came out as gay and accepted so warmly by his loved ones was one of the film’s worthy moments.
The movie also makes an effort to erase the gay stereotype.
The film has its flaws, but seeing the support the four women gave to each other, along with the support and acceptance Charla gave to her son when he came out (imagine having a coming out party!), was refreshing to see in a film intended for the Filipino masses.
Bes and the Beshies is Graded B by the Cinema Evaluation Board.
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.