Tuesday, July 07, 2015

I Love You. Thank You.

I dislike most local films but delight in the fact that once in a while, after the release of the nth Shake, Rattle and Roll, Wattpad novel adaptation and kabit-themed flick, the masses get treated to a quality film or two that we as Filipinos can be proud of. Most of the time they're independent productions developed and promoted by film festivals like the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival. This year, such indie films are featured in the Filipino New Cinema category of the first-ever World Premieres Film Festival, and one of them is the Charliebebs Gohetia-written and -directed movie titled I Love You. Thank You.

The movie begins beautifully, with Joross Gamboa roaming the streets of Bangkok, taking pictures of the sights as he goes. In the background, Edgar Allan Guzman's slower, softer rendition of Silent Sanctuary's "Sa'Yo" immediately tugs at the viewer's heartstrings and sets the tone of the movie. This is going to be emotional. The title, after all, is I Love You. Thank You, and few things are more heart-wrenching than a love that isn't returned.

But is it really a matter of unrequited love, or is there, to a small degree, an exchange of it, only not in equal proportions? Or maybe it's a matter of timing. You get to ponder on these things a lot as the story progresses. Joross Gamboa's character Paul has feelings for Red (Prince Stefan) but Red is in a long-term relationship with Paul's best friend Ivan (CJ Reyes). Red is pretty serious about Ivan, preparing surprises for his birthday and their upcoming fourth anniversary, but Ivan isn't as invested in the relationship as Red is...or at least not anymore. While still very much in love with Red, Paul sojourns to Siem Reap where he meets Tang (Thai actor Ae Pattawan) who has already become besotted with him even before they've officially met. Eventually, back in Bangkok, Paul gets the opportunity to be with his love interest but not before he has already said yes to taking chances with Tang.

Tang (Ae Pattawan) and Paul (Joross Gamboa) biking around Siem Reap.

Joross Gamboa has done gay roles before but it just might be in I Love You. Thank You. where he shines best. He doesn't need to do drag or take off his shirt to reveal a gym-going closeted gay guy's physique, because he isn't playing any gay stereotype. He's playing a gay man in love. The inflections, gay lingo and gesticulations are merely supporting details to his character. He switches with ease from being effeminate to slightly more masculine depending on the situation, sans the redundant waxing-poetic that the other leads seem to need to make sure we sympathize with them. I couldn't fully sympathize with Red being heartbroken over Ivan even after he (spoiler alert!) tries to take his own life by slashing his wrist. And despite Tang's habit of jotting down his sentiments on a journal, I still couldn't wrap my head around how he is supposedly a writer, much less a porn writer by profession. But when Paul stares longingly at Red without saying anything, I feel the weight of Paul's pain and believe he is truly, madly, deeply in love with him. Joross is that convincing.

143TY, as the film's title is stylized on social media sites, is a gay film that doesn't bank on steamy scenes to lure in members of the gay community. It's a story about love and heartbreak that anyone, gay and straight alike, can relate to, with the added bonus of four attractive male actors playing the lead characters in beautiful locations such as the streets of Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh and the temples of Siem Reap. You wouldn't believe it's a low-budget movie because it's an achievement in guerrilla filmmaking, and it's in independent films such as this where we may find that perhaps there's hope for Philippine cinema yet.

Though the other entries under the World Premieres Film Festival's Filipino New Cinema category will still be screened in SM Cinemas until July 27, I Love You. Thank You. will have one last screening on July 17 (Friday), 8 PM at UP Cine Adarna. Catch it then because you might not get another chance.


UPDATE (from the movie's Facebook page): 143TY will have a UPLB screening this September. More details to follow.

4 comment(s):

Sepsep said...

I was able to catch the last showing of this movie at U.P. Cine Adarna and it was amazing! I think I teared up twice. I will definitely watch this again if given another chance, this time together with friends. :)

leeflailmarch said...

You watched it alone? I heard they'll be showing it again at UPLB a few months from now. Go catch it then! :)

Sepsep said...

Yes, I was alone when I watched it. And yes, they announced after the movie that they will show it again in UPLB on September. I forgot the exact date though. :P

leeflailmarch said...

Follow the 143TY Facebook page for details so you may watch it again with your friends this time. :)