DVD Gaydar

DVD Gaydar
DVD Gaydar

Rating: 4.4
Genres: Comedy
Director: Alvin Yapan
Writers: Alvin Yapan
Stars: Pauleen Luna, Tom Rodriguez, Rafael Rosell
Tina thinks she’s cursed. She always ends up falling in love with gays. After her latest embarrassment with Ricky, whom she thought would propose to her on their date but ends up introducing to his boyfriend, she vows never to fall in love again with men. Men always end up gay whenever she falls in love with them. Written by anonymous
Country: Philippines
Release Date: 13 November 2013 (Philippines)

1 Comment

  1. Literature professor/writer-director Alvin Yapan's career is an intriguing read; sometimes he hit's the bull's-eye, sometimes his films are merely strung-along vignettes that feel uneven and underwritten (he is, after all, known for short stories, not novels). In ANG PANGGAGAHASA KAY FE (2011, starring the luminous Irma Adlawan), Yapan was in his element, going for the jugular as well as framing a neatly written, if jarring script that straddled the sociocultural and supernatural. Adlawan simply carried the whole movie. In ANG SAYAW NG DALAWANG KALIWANG PAA (2011), Yapan, incredibly, draws out three understated performances from Jean Garcia, Paulo Avelino and Rocco Nacino. All three have shone in the hands of other masterful directors; Yapan seems to have tamped down character development, making for a slow-burn movie and nauseatingly limpid lead characters. In GAYUMA (2011), Yapan floundered again, banking on a thin script and the subpar thespic skills of Mercedes Cabral (improving with every film, but oddly and tediously hammy in TV soaps, like MAGDALENA and CASSANDRA: WARRIOR ANGEL). In DEBOSYON (2013), sharply written this time, his principals, Paulo Avelino and Mara Lopez, are visibly overwhelmed by the plot; Avelino's brilliance manages to shine through in certain key scenes but he holds back in others.

    In GAYDAR, Yapan may be said to mislead the "gay market" with the very title. Okay, I will spoil the main premise, but this is a romantic comedy of mistaken assumptions and, at its very core, a subdued love triangle. Tom Rodriguez's character, Richard Samaniego, is NOT gay (although he tells Tina he likes Regine Velasquez songs; Rafael Rosell's character, Nick, is NOT gay either (although everybody else, including the clueless Tina, think so). But the supporting cast (except for a surprise turn by Nico Antonio, too bizarre to be described here) is, well, adequately "bakla." Tina (Pauleen Luna) works for a PR company that sells cosmetics, and all the women (and maybe most of the men) are "babaeng bakla." Even Pauleen Luna's character is not fully developed; a seemingly rich brat who works simply to show up her parents. She has a car, but won't hire a driver. It falls upon her (seemingly effeminate) BFF (Rosell) to fetch her to and fro, riding FX vehicles. During one such ride, Luna meets the handsome Ricky (Benedict Campos), but because of her fairytale expectations, fails to read the signs (he's trying to tell her he's gay, and that he just wants her friendship) and suffers a heartbreak. What happens next, and how Tom Rodriguez (as a cabdriver whose real identity and social standing is a mystery he likes to keep undisclosed) figures in the life of Luna (and of Rosell, as well), should have made for an engaging comedy of manners/comedy of errors. Alas, like Avelino and Nacino underplaying in ANG SAYAW NG DALAWANG KALIWANG PAA, the two hunks of GAYDAR are BOTH misleadingly effeminate and fatally sedate. Rodriguez, in particular, relies too much on his look-at-my-cute-dimples looks and milks it every time (looks alone can't carry a movie, man, you have to act!). Rosell fares better, but why his character takes a long time to profess his love for (okay, I'm spoiling the whole plot) Luna is an even bigger puzzle than why Yapan wrote GAYDAR in the first place. The ending, involving a mock abduction, is ludicrous. On paper it may have read "cute" and endearing, but directorially, it's simply not well staged. (Alvin, it would have made for better viewing if one of the two men were really gay, or if Rosell and Rodriguez shared just even a brief kiss (or embrace) that could later on be explained away. Just for cheap thrills. As it is, it falls on supporting actor Benedict Campos to be that kind of foil, and he does turn in a good performance). Most of all, the whole movie banks on Luna's charm, glamour (she is dressed beautifully all the time) and pizzaz to carry things along. It would have worked, but only up to a point. Such a whiny brattinella gets exhausting and tedious after a while, and only her utter cluelessness (with guys in general) add spark to Yapan's intended black humor. Madeleine Nicolas (as Rosell's inquisitive, worried mother), indie stalwart Johnron Tañada (as a passerby, dealing with a wife and a gay sponsor), indie stalwart Jeff Luna, Olive Nieto and theater name Dennis Marasigan lend fine support. Dexter de la Peña and Jan Tristan Pandy's cinematography and music by Denise Santos are pluses (but that blind singing group, interrupting/highlighting Tina's heartbreaks, is simply NOT funny, amusing, or appealing). Was Yapan just inserting a pop-culture gimmick here? Maybe split-screen, for most of the movie, would have helped. I hope Yapan's next work (MGA ANINO NG KAHAPON), starring TJ Trinidad, Carlo Cruz and Agot Isidro, will be sharper and tighter. (Yapan currently chairs the Department of Filipino of the Ateneo de Manila University where he teaches Philippine literature and post-colonialism for which he holds a doctoral degree). I will always watch Alvin Yapan's works; I know he will get sharper and smoother.

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