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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 2, 2016

Working Beks Movie Review: A Plea For A Better Understanding Of Homosexuals

WE’RE NOT surprised that “Working Beks” didn’t last in theaters since the public seems to be averse lately to materials about homosexuals, whether it be on TV or the big screen. Also, it was not really promoted extensively by Viva. And we’re really surprised that Viva agreed to bankroll this when they already had a previous flop about a gay character, “Bekikang”, which starred Joey Paras, now also one of the stars of “Working Beks”.

The movie is a day in the life of five gays with varying degrees of gay-ness. TJ Trinidad is Tommy, a marketing executive who has a partner (Arnold Reyes) and they have two adopted daughters. John Lapus is Gregorio/Gorgeous, a small carinderia owner who is the milking cow of his parents, siblings and extended family.

Edgar Allan Guzman is Champ, a top actor who goes into hiding when a video scandal of him with another man went viral in the internet. Prince Stefan is Jet, a promiscuous call center agent afraid that he might contracted the HIV virus after having unprotected sex with someone who just committed suicide for being HIV positive. Joey Paras is Mandy, a reformed gay who is about to wed a woman (Cai Cortez) but gets cold feet after watching Champ’s sex video.

The stories deal with serious matters, like Prince’s predicament which is the result of his promiscuity, or TJ being the victim of discrimination in his company, intentionally bypassed in being promoted because of his sexual preference. But everything is told with a dose of humor. The best realized story is that of Edgar Allan, which shows how hard it is to be a closet gay when you’re such an adored matinee idol. Edgar is excellent in that scene where he breaks down. In the end, he still runs to his own mother for solace and comfort. He is well supported in his episode by Raquel Villavicencio as his mom, Bela Padilla as his bratty diva ka-love team and Marlon Rivera as his much harassed manager.

TJ Trinidad is also superb as the gay executive with a modern family. His story aims to show that same sex couples can successfully raise their own adopted kids who grow up to be well adjusted and accept the genders of their parents. Arnold Reyes as his very supportive partner also shines.

Gorgeous’ story mirrors that of a lot of gays who act as breadwinners on whom their respective families depend for financial sustenance, but it becomes more of an incredible sob story simply because the parents of John Lapus (Rez Cortez and Madlen Nicolas) are so abusive they look more like caricatures. And John looks quite a bit overweight for the role of the over exploited, suffering gay.

The story that flounders, strains credulity and seems a bit strained is that of Mandy. We wish Joey Paras was given a scene where he voices out why he wants to reject his being homosexuality and marry a woman. His therapy scene with Atak where the comedian tries to reform him to the point of exorcising and electrocuting him doesn’t work well and doesn’t come out as hilarious as it’s meant to be.

The story about Jet is also overdrawn. The scene showing him looking so tormented just listening to his boss and an office mate talking and repeating the words “positive” and “dead” is simply a case of forcing through and a bit of an overkill. His confessing his sins to a priest who only falls asleep while listening to him also didn’t elicit the expected laughs.

We don’t have to mention here in detail how each story is resolved but, yes, everyone is given his own happy ending. We heard writer-director Chris Martinez didn’t accept any talent fee just to make sure that the movie, which is a plea for a better understanding of gays, is made. At least, the gays here are not the usual screaming parlorista or wisecracking sidekick of the bida but just normal people struggling to live their own lives like straights try to do.

Chris is obviously a big fan of the late Ishmael Bernal. After paying tribute to him in the remake of “Salawahan”, he now pays homage to Bernal’s “Working Girls”. But just like his “Status: It’s Complicated”, “Working Beks” also fails in comparison to the very engaging original works that inspired them. One reason could be that Bernal was working with scriptwriter Amado Lacuesta while Chris did the all the writing and directing all be his lonesome self.