Glorious tells the story of a May-December romance between Glory, a 50-year-old estranged married woman, and Niko, a free-spirited and passionate 22-year-old single guy.
This erotic tale is mainly set in Baguio, with some scenes shot in breathtaking Sagada.
Despite their age differences, the idea isn’t too far-fetched. What man in his right man would not be attracted to a woman as beautiful and whose figure is svelte as Angel Aquino’s? And how could a woman who’s had zero affection and contact in the last seven years not allow herself to be carried away when a beautiful young man is so persistent at wooing her?
Glory does have her reasons, and her reasons for not considering a reconciliation with her husband, which makes her incessant yearning for another man justifiable. Crossing paths with Niko in Baguio isn’t impossible, either; it’s a place where you might run into the same person you shared a jeepney ride with just a few hours earlier.
Glory and Niko make such a handsome couple that I wouldn’t be surprised to see them holding hands in real life. A hot and steamy affair between two beautiful and unattached people is highly plausible. But even if they seem perfect together, a stable and committed relationship is a serious and complicated matter, given their personal circumstances.
Because in between their secret trysts and pre- and post-sex getting-to-know conversations, there are other people and their perceptions to consider. There is a story behind each important person in their lives and their connections to the two main characters, as well as a need to tell these other stories—which can be tricky.
Storytelling-wise, Connie Macatuno hits the nail on the head with this one. Glorious efficiently weaves the subplots together and presents a series of beautifully shot light, emotional, and sexually charged scenes in reasonable, well-distributed doses.
Glory and Niko make a picture-perfect couple because you can barely tell their age gap based on their appearances. Angel Aquino looks like she has barely gone past her actual age and people hardly notice that she’s older than Tony. This is not exactly a bad thing, but in a way weakens the inevitable thrusts of the film: to romanticize May-December relationships and to lessen, if not completely eliminate, the stigma that surrounds them.
Because they look like they’re almost the same age, it seems like they have fewer odds to beat compared to other couples in similar situations, such as Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman in the 1967 classic The Graduate; and Aga Muhlach and Vilma Santos in the Sinungaling Mong Puso. On a more positive note, it lends truth to the adage, “Age is just a number.”
One big palpable issue they have, though, concerns money. Glory is still partially financially dependent on her husband and Niko’s money problems force them to migrate to Sagada, where hell breaks loose once details about Glory’s identity are revealed and for the first time, lead to real threats to their relationship. Before this happens, however, it’s safe to say that it was merely their insecurities getting in the way—not Glory’s grown children, estranged husband, or Niko’s ex-lover who appears in one scene drunk, never to be seen or heard from, again.
The couple never had much money in the first place because Glory’s income from her pottery business is unstable, and Niko works as part of the sales staff in a hardware store.
While it’s not impossible to see someone as tall, chiseled, and as handsome as Tony Labrusca selling light bulbs in a retail setting, his speaking lines still bare traces of the young actor’s Filipino-American upbringing. His off-duty clothes don’t resemble the wardrobe of a probinsyano who barely has a penny to his name.
His lola’s boy persona is endearing, but hearing him say “ang sabi ng lola ko” loses its charm after the nth time.
There’s not much we can do at this point about the fact that Tony doesn’t sound like a Sagada native or a Baguio local, but what he lacks in this regard, he makes up for in leaps and bounds through his intensity as an actor. He fits the profile of the self-assured and brazen Niko and transforms into a moaning, hot young thing that mercilessly devours his prey even before the lights are turned off.
As mentioned earlier, some of the scenes are graphic and sexually charged. Tony and Angel are steamy and effective as lovers on screen, whether they’re sharing lighthearted conversations or tongue-slapping and tongue-swapping inside the bedroom. But no matter how passionate or explicit the bed scenes get, it never reaches the point of debauchery because as spectators, we are made to believe that the couple on screen are making love out of love, and not just for the sake of the camera. Everything feels raw, everything is real.
Angel Aquino, the underrated actress that she is, once again proves that she can easily take on challenging roles and maybe even surpass what other younger, more popular celebrities can deliver—if given the opportunity. Apart from her obvious acting talent, she has the grace and bearing required for many roles.
Through Glorious, Tony Labrusca makes his third mark as arguably the most promising and one of the most talented young actors of his generation; first in ML, followed by his role as a mentally disturbed athlete in Double Twisting Double Back, and now in pivotal role as the kind of lover every woman wants to have in this gem of an erotic romance film.
Glorious is available for streaming through iWant.
P.S. Don't miss out on the post-credit scene that will tease viewers even more.
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.