EDDIE Garcia won international acting awards in 2012 for portraying the role of an old gay man caring for his dog in “Bwakaw”. He’s now predicted to win more acting honors for playing another aging gay in “Rainbow’s Sunset”. We also won’t be surprised if the film would run away with most of the awards come Metro Filmfest awards night simply because, content-wise, it is the one with more significant substance among the 8 entries. This is the only serious family drama and also addresses other valid issues such as love in its various forms, acceptance, interpersonal conflicts between family members, forgiveness and reconciliation, promoting fundamental family values in the process.
Written by Eric Ramos and masterfully directed by Joel Lamangan (this is one of his best films of late), the story concerns a former senator who’s now an octogenarian, Ramon (Eddie), who’s married to Sylvia (Gloria Romero), but also has a lifelong secret relationship with his lover from way back, Fredo (Tony Mabesa). When Fredo is diagnosed to be dying of cancer, Ramon throws all caution into the wind and decides to come out of the closet. He leaves his home with Sylvia to keep Fredo company.
They have three kids: Tirso Cruz III as Emman, who’s not as bright as his sisters; Aiko Melendez as Georgina, the current mayor of their town; and Sunshine Dizon as Fe, a single mom who works with an NGO and has a younger boyfriend (Albie Casino). Fe is the most tolerant among the siblings and Georgina is the one who’s most vehemently opposed to their dad since she’s worried about what people would say and how it would affect her political standing.
The conflict divides the siblings but, in the end, family love prevails, with the characters coming out as real people and not mere caricatures manipulated to elicit desired responses from the audience, although the film has an unpredictable ending that makes you feel like the rug is suddenly pulled under your feet. The final scene, which is wordless, where Gloria Romero quietly feeds her rival, seen from outside their window while the camera is slowly zooming out, is truly very touching.
The ensemble acting is consistently splendid, from the elderly stars to their children, who have their own personal problems, to their grandchildren who are adversely affected by their grandfather’s late blooming admission about his sexual identity. Eddie Garcia has complete understanding of his role so we won’t be surprised if he’d win again after just bagging the Cinemalaya and QCinema Filmfest best actor awards for “ML” and “Hintayan sa Langit”.
Gloria Romero also stands out for her very quiet and understated portrayal of the very understanding wife, the most endearing character in the film. She knows how deep and fervent is the relationship of Ramon and Fredo that dates back to their childhood. Among the three kids, who are all flawed, imperfect characters, Tirso and Aiko shine simply because they have the more attention-getting roles.
Tirso is quite moving in his breakdown scene after his personal setback when his sex video with a younger woman is uploaded on the internet. Not every actor can handle this sobbing scene the way he did it. Aiko gives a vibrant and energetic performance as the imperious and domineering George, particularly in that confrontation scene where she gives Sunshine Dizon a piece of her mind in front of Gloria Romero. Sunshine has the more quiet role as Fe, but she also delineates all her scenes very convincingly.
Also giving competent support are Max Collins as the young Sylvia (she’s so beautiful on screen and can act so well, we hope GMA will give her more challenging lead roles), Tanya Gomez as Tirso’s aggrieved wife who leaves him, Noel Comia as the grandchild who figures in a fight in school defending his grandpa, and Jim Pebanco and Sue Prado as the relatives of Fredo who have their own ulterior motives in taking care of their ailing uncle.
We hope that good word of mouth endorsement will give the movie good legs at the box office because, honestly, we’re afraid it might easily clobbered by the more commercial entries (comedies, romances, horror flicks). After all, what is the chance that the general public would prioritize watching a movie about two aging gays and a very forgiving wife? Abroad, they’ve had movies like this before like “Beginners” where Christopher Plummer became the oldest actor to win an Oscar for his role as an old man who comes out to his son. There’s also “The Birdcage” with Nathan Lane and the late Robin Williams, but it’s more of a comedy.
The most recent is “Love is Strange” in 2014 with John Lithgow and Alfred Molina showing the ups and downs in a same sex marriage. But locally, this is the first film about two aging gays who have maintained their relationship through so many years. It’s worth a look so please, try watching it on the first day before its theatres are pulled out and given to the more commercially successful entries.