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Urs Peter Halter
Can a 12-year old lad who wishes he were a girl navigate the mean streets of Manila? Maxi cooks, cleans, and sews for his father and older brothers who are petty criminals. He's sweet, clever and hardworking, at ease with being gay, pinning a flower in his hair, swinging his hips when he walks, vamping with friends. He's seen adults hug and kiss and he's watched romantic movies, so on the verge of puberty, he develops a crush on Victor, a kindly young cop. Maxi's heart and loyalties are on a collision course: Victor is investigating crimes that lead him to Maxi's family. In the land of the morning, is there a place for this child of the sun returning? Written by
Just by watching this film, one can understand inside-out about what's going on in a so-called developing country. All the odds. All the blurry lines. And the great parallel of morality and survivability. This film tells a life story well beyond homosexuality and human attraction, as indicated in the camouflage. Maximo or Maxi represents every soul on earth, who needs time, and perhaps a tragedy, to comprehend the life bestowed on him by others, and another life he may be given a chance to choose. His criminal but ultimately decent family is on one side, and the naively honest and devilishly handsome police officer on the other. And, to cry out loud, he is only 12 years old, living in a slum area and without a mother. Forcing him to choose is cruel. I myself am from Thailand. Not so different from the Philippines portrayed excellently here. I think I can relate very well to the sense of trapping one may feel, having born into a brothel of life like that. I dare an inexperienced westerner to predict the film plot, and how it might end. I do not think you can figure out one move to another. This film is honest, with the story well-told and incredibly fair. It should be nominated for major film awards on behalf of ASEAN, as opposed to the Philippines alone, as it tells an ASEAN story, except for Singapore, as few films can. Maximo walks past the charming Victor on his way to re-enter school. Believe it or not, it is indeed hard to be that determined in a society less than fair and democratic. He is indeed blossoming.
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