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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.

Jan 2, 2017

Die Beautiful Movie Review: Paolo Ballesteros And Christian Bables Deserve Their Best Actor & Supporting Actor Awards

‘DIE BEAUTIFUL’ starts with the lead character Patrick aka Trisha Echeverria (Paolo Ballesteros) dying from aneurysm right after winning the title in a gay beauty pageant. From there, his life’s journey is told in flashbacks in non-chronological fashion, intertwining his struggles as a transgender with the events that happen during his week-long wake. This treatment makes it possible for the more commercial elements aimed to please and satisfy the audience with the film’s more serious objective of giving us an intimate look into the travails and struggles of a transgender.

Scripted by Rody Vera based on a story idea of Jun Lana, who directed the movie, “Die Beautiful” chronicles the drama-filled life and heartaches of a gay man trying to find his own place in the sun. We see him being mauled by his homophobic dad, his college crush brutally rapes him along with several other men, a macho dancer whose nose job he financed dumps him for a parlorista and a girl he adopts and raises by himself runs away and gets pregnant. But all this is told amidst a hilarious series of gay beauty pageants he joins, serving as a foil against the serious setbacks that Trisha experiences in life.

Throughout all his colorful experiences, Paolo Ballesteros stands out as Trisha, making this THE acting vehicle of his lifetime, handling all his scenes with the right mixture of levity and sensitivity. He’s better known as one of the many hosts in “Eat Bulaga” who excels when it comes to appearing in drag and doing celebrity impersonations, but in this movie (he has appeared in supporting roles in other films before), he just shines and shimmers whether in tender scenes where he gives valuable advice to his adopted daughter (Inah de Belen), being defiant to his conservative father and sister (Joel Torre and Gladys Reyes), or tearfully sharing his hurts and frustrations in life and love with his best friend Barbie (Christian Bables). His comic scenes are all handled skillfully, like his spoof of Jaclyn Jose’s deadpan delivery of her lines that is “bentang-benta” to the audience.

Paolo succeeds in making Trisha someone human, someone we can care for and not just a ridiculous caricature even if he is transformed into Katy Perry, Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, Beyonce, etc. while he’s lying in his coffin. He is wonderfully supported by Christian Bables who has his own splendid moments as Barbie, like when he says he wants to be in a barong when he dies because the body he just borrowed from God must be returned in its original state.

Lana’s direction is generally fine but we felt the running time at two hours is just too long. It can stand some trimming and there are some parts where the film loses its grip and focus for the sake of “pakwela” scenes like Eugene Domingo popping up in a scene that fails to elicit that much laughter.

Honestly, we believe the whole episode involving Luis Alandy’s character can be excised (the twist about him being a rapist is actually ineffectual and hollow) and it will not hurt the film at all but wil even help quicken the pacing. Despite these quibbles, “Die Beautiful” is still a must see movie that you shouldn’t miss. We’re glad that it did good at the box office after other gay themed movies this year (“Working Beks”, “That Thing Called Tanga Na”, “Bakit Lahat ng Guwapo, May Boyfriend”) did badly at the tills.