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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 1, 2013

Gaydar Movie Review: A Gay-Themed Romantic Comedy That Works

AFTER watching his past films like "Panggagahasa Kay Fe", "Debosyon" and the acclaimed "Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa", all serious dramas, we didn't think writer-director Alvin Yapan would be capable of making an entertaining romantic comedy like "Gaydar". The movie stars Pauleen Luna who's been around for ten years hosting "Eat Bulaga" and playing contravida roles in soaps, but it's only now that she's given a starring role. She plays Tina, a young woman ready to fall in love and commit to a handsome young man (Benedict Campos). But in their date where she expects him to tell her he loves her, she gets the surprise of her life when he admits to her that he's actually gay.

She has a faithful best friend, Nick (Rafael Rosell), to whom she confides all her feelings. They've been friends from way back but there's no romantic involvement between them because she thinks Nick is gay. The truth is that Nick is very much straight and he has feelings for her, but he keeps his true feelings a secret from her since she comes from a rich family while he is the breadwinner who provides for his widowed mom and his younger brother.

Tina asks Nick to help her find an FX driver that will take her to office everyday. They find Chard (Tom Rodriguez), a very handsome young man and she instantly gets attracted to him but she's afraid he might turn out to be gay again and she doesn't have a gaydar (radar for detecting if someone is homosexual) to confirm if he's one. Her office friends teach her how to observe a man and figure out from his actions and behaviour that he's gay.

It turns out that Chard really has a big secret that he's keeping from Tina, but it's not what you'd expect as they are soon going steady. But Tina quickly realizes that there is something else that is lacking in her life, providing the final twist in the story.

Director Yapan succeeds in his first attempt to do something light. He has garnished his movie with some funny touches, notably the quartet of blind singers who act as a Greek chorus or bridge appearing in some key scenes.The movie is not as glossy and lavish in production values the way that Star Cinema usually does it, but it does work, mainly because Pauleen is very effective in her role as the clueless heroine. Tina can be a giddy, self-absorbed and off-putting character but Pauleen somehow manages to make her endearing. She looks so pretty on screen and can certainly act well, too bad she never achieved leading lady status, something that will not happen anymore now that she's identified with Vic Sotto.

Tom Rodriguez is every inch the matinee idol leading man the role calls for but Rafael Rosell has gone too far in making himself so thin that it doesn't become him at all. Mukha siyang natutuyot on screen. But in all fairness to the three main stars, they give pretty solid and believable characterizations.