For more than a decade, the emergence of LGBTQIA-themed films in our independent cinema have flocked our home video collections, and even Robinson Cinemas. It began with all the good intentions, but when producers saw this as an opportunity for revenue, it snowballed like hell. Like or not: sex sells. Much more if two or more men are in the same bed. This sad cycle in the history of our local cinema ultimately produced some of the most inferior, self-oppressive and tasteless works for the sake of getting favourable production returns. These, so-called (H)Indie Film have dug a deeper margin for the LGBTQIA, and has misled a public on the what our advocacies really are. That is why when Director Joselito Altarejos brings in KASAL (2014) in Cinemalaya, one can’t help but sit with justifiable qualms, and nervous reservations. In an era where we normally see LGBTQIA-themed movies in an exclusive sections in our Astrovisions and Odysseys, having another entry of its kind is something we just don’t need.
But Altarejos proves them wrong. KASAL is a film that explores backdoor issues surrounding our cries for equality. It is not a total flesh feast, nor an array of intolerable acting, but a presentation of silent oppression. It carefully presents a strong argument on why we have been fighting for the basic right to marriage. Note worthy are the performances of its two leads. Arnold Cruz Reyes and new comer Oliver Aquino, both gave strong portrayals of two lovers who are trapping themselves in a circumstance they can’t escape from.
There were unnecessary scenes, and a prolonged soft-porn moment (uuuuy, manonood na yan!), but it argues an issue that has been around these past years. It successfully depicts how cultural and religious oppressions bring forth our personal and emotional struggles. As a whole, KASAL somehow ties a justifiable knot.
3 STARS OUT OF 5