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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
I really didn't know what to expect on sitting down to watch The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros. Only knowing a few details of the plot - a young Philippino boy, the slums of Manila, a cop - I was worried that this was not likely to be the feelgood film of 2007!
How wrong I was. This film is one of the most unexpected delights of recent years, anchored by a central performance from 12-year-old Nathan Lopez that is dazzlingly mature and breathtakingly charming. Although the film does veer into melodramatic territory in the predictable conflict between JR Valentin's young cop and Maxi's family of petty criminals, the central storyline of Maxi's crush on the hunky policeman is handled with tremendous sensitivity, humour and warmth.
In a perfect world performances like Lopez's would gather awards like daffodils, but in the absence of any trophies I hope he's happy to have created such a memorable character. If your heart doesn't break watching Maxi's story, chances are you have no heart to break.
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