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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.

May 25, 2018

Kasal Movie Review: Derek Plays An Asshole But Love Eventually Conquers All For Bea And Paulo

NOTE: If you’ve not seen “Kasal”, don’t read this review as it contains spoilers.

‘KASAL’ opens in of those movie wonderland scenes showing 10,000 roses that light up, where a handsome young man proposes marriage to his beautiful girlfriend. But it is actually a love triangle melodrama with a sensational twist where the prospective groom, Paulo Avelino as Philip turns out to have a deep dark secret which is discovered by his rival, Derek Ramsay as Wado, who then starts blackmailing him as he still has the hots for Bea Alonzo as Lia, the girl he left behind when he worked abroad and got someone else preggers.

The story is told in predictable stages. First is Bea’s acceptance of Paulo’s proposal and the preparation for their wedding even if Paulo’s parents, Christopher de Leon and Cherie Gil, obviously favor Paulo’s ex, Kylie Versoza as Eunice, over Bea.

Next is the introduction of the other guy, Derek, who enters the picture to help Paulo build a bridge that will help boost his chances of winning as Cebu mayor in the coming election. But then, Derek meets Kylie and learns about Paulo’s deep dark secret.

The next stage is the revelation scene, followed by so much unhappiness on the part of everyone. But since this is from Star Cinema, of course, it won’t just end with the characters being so sad. As you may expect, there’s an epilogue where Bea and Paulo meet again and there’s a hint of acceptance for them to face together a brave new tomorrow.

In the 70s, Lino Brocka’s “Tubog sa Ginto” was quite shocking with Eddie Garcia as the husband of Lolita Rodriguez who turns out to be a closet homosexual having an affair with a hustler, Mario O’Hara. Today, Paulo’s character maybe in the closet but he’s not totally gay. He’s more like Mark Bautista who wrote in his memoir that he enjoys both men and women, meaning, bisexual. He professes real love for Bea and says he’s been in love with her since high school.

But there’s another character in “Kasal” who’s totally gay. This is Ricky Davao as Bea’s dad, who obviously antedated Caitlin Jenner in coming out to transition as a transgender. So this is why Bea felt like she got a double whammy, what with her dad leaving her to be a tranny and her prospective husband turning out to be a bi.

Of course, local moviegoers who love these shocking turns of plot will enjoy all the melodrama even if you could easily see how artificially contrived the script can sometimes be in manipulating the film’s narrative machinations. Bea professes her dislike for Derek but still finds time to see him privately to reminisce about their past. But the biggest plot maneuver is when she and Paulo agree to go with Derek to Manila where the film’s unsavory climax expectedly happens.

Derek secures his rightful place in hell with his hateful character as the predatory Wado who resorts to dirty tricks and is apparently convinced that he’s so irresistible that he’s so sure Bea is still so in love with him and that Paulo will easily succumb to his seductive charms. You’d really want to punch him on the face when he tries to force himself on Paulo in the shower. Our granddaughter was with us when we watched the movie and she burst into tears screaming “Die! Die! Die!” each time she’d see Derek on screen. To redeem his asshole character, Derek is given a long monologue apologizing to Bea, but it’s so unconvincingly staged and executed.

What makes the film easier to watch is the heartfelt performances of the leads. Bea as Lia shows she’s more than just a cry baby as Paulo’s would be trophy wife and as the daughter with a huge emotional baggage against her dad. As she said: “Tatay ko, transgender. Ang mapapangasawa ko, bisexual. Konti na lang, makukumpleto ko na ang mga letra sa LGBT.”

Paulo starts as the properly timid, less favored son, trying to conduct a life of dignity even if he’s very vulnerable and afraid of societal conventions since he knows he’s carrying a big scandalous secret that might ruin his life. But later, he shows more impassioned acting as he starts to be more defiant in asserting himself against the repugnant contemptible Derek and against his controlling dad.

Among the supporting cast, the standouts are Kylie Versoza who shows she’s more than just a beauty queen as the scheming, sultry Eunice who has her own agenda, and Ricky Davao as the crossdressing dad who simply steals his final confrontation and forgiveness scene with Bea. The heartfelt sincerity of his performance as he explains to her how her mom did everything to keep her away from him as she was growing up is quite moving. He says, with the right nuances to help us understand the character more: “Na-realized kong para mahalin kita ng totoong-totoo, kailangan kong maging totoo sa sarili ko. Tinanggap ko na ring ito ang kapalit ng pagpili ko sa sarili ko.”

The fairly well crafted film also offers great production values with its superb cinematography, delightful locations and well appointed production design. You’d never suspect that most of the locations (other than the external shots) were not really filmed in Cebu but in Batangas or somewhere else.