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A Brave Little Film from an Independent Crew in the Philippines
DUDA (DOUBT) is an example of how a man driven by an idea for a film can succeed against all odds at creating a significant statement. Writer/Director Crisaldo Pablo used a cast of friends with some professionals and with the use of a Sony VX made the first full-length digital film ever shot in the Philippines. Comments by Cris Pablo and some of the actors are in a 'making of' feature on the DVD demonstrate how much dedication to a vision played in this brave little movie.
The story deals with the life of a thirty-something young man Cris (Andoy Ranay - 'Markova: Comfort Gay', 'Bathhouse') whose life to date has been that of a man seeking sexual encounters daily, swearing that after 4000 such encounters he will find the perfect mate as #4001. After a particularly active night (seven conquests) he meets the early twenty-something Erick (Paulo Gabriel) and indeed settles into what he feels will be a lifetime commitment. Cris' friends are constant companions who are pleased at Cris' new lifestyle, but at the same time are wary of the youthful Erick's fidelity. Doubt ensues and Cris confronts Erick on his time away from the home, a factor that makes the experimenting Erick outraged at Cris' constant jealousy. Ben, an old paramour of Cris' appears, making one last attempt to ignite past fires of passion before he marries a girlfriend: Cris remains committed to Erick.
Cris works as a television director and much of the story plays out by showing simultaneous TV talk shows, one about Cris' life and the other about Erick's adventures. The tension mounts as Cris sees his relationship disintegrating and hearing some sad news about Ben, Cris resolves to live the lonely life of an aging gay man...until a surprise event occurs.
For a first-time film, DOUBT has many positive qualities. Flashback sequences are filmed in black and white in a grainy, semi-focused manner that allows the theme of sensuality to be presented in an amazingly subtle way. Considering the film is shot with a digital camera, the flow is smooth and the sense is one of immediacy and spontaneity. The only professional actor is the lead Andoy Ranay and he draws a convincing, three-dimensional character with whom we can identify - a man approaching the age of 'undesirable' in the gay world of the Philippines. The rest of the cast, though unsophisticated in training, give committed performances under Crisaldo Pablo's direction. The resulting product is a somewhat rough but ultimately honest and creative movie about the private and public pain of gay relationships. Give it a try. In Tagalog and English with subtitles. Grady Harp
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