'Deadma Walking' review: Sincere when queer, generic when not

In Julius Alfonso's Deadma Walking, John (Joross Gamboa), who just learned that he is dying of cancer, recruits his best friend Mark (Edgar Allan Guzman) to stage his fake death and arrange his wake all for the purpose of experiencing the outpouring of love and sorrow that he would never experience had he just died. (READ: 'Deadma Walking': Not just another gay film)

Realization of fantasy

The realization of a fantasy is the driving force of the film's central conceit.

Throughout the film, both main characters, proud gay men who never seemed to have problems growing up and living with their sexual orientation, relay their shared fantasies, often being sidetracked from their thoughts by lustful musings about the men they adore. The motivation is clearly for humor, and the frank irreverence of how the characters mix matters as serious as death with prurient desires often results in well-deserved laughs.

However, what is really intriguing in how the screenplay by Eric Cabahug is shaped is how it is so fluent, frank, and strikingly sincere in its depiction of gay fantasizing.

MORE THAN A GAY FILM. 'Deadma Walking' revolves around two friends.

MORE THAN A GAY FILM. 'Deadma Walking' revolves around two friends.

Deadma Walking is most enjoyable when it indulges in its integral queerness, often abandoning the predictable movements of its friendship-centered melodrama for frequent flights of frisky fancy. The script's preoccupation with musical theater, obscure art cinema, Eugene Domingo, and other gay icons seems to be a needless diversion to the straightforward story but is truly the film's fabulous soul.

The film seems oblivious to conformity and that is exactly what makes it worthwhile despite its very pedestrian plotting. It is funny without being overly boisterous. It is earnest in its convictions without being too didactic.

Strong performances, but...

Deadma Walking is a film that doesn't exactly require a lot of cinematic sophistication. In fact, the film works best when it imbibes camp, when it embraces its garish sensibilities, when it relishes its desire for exaggerations.

CANCER BATTLE. Joross Gamboa's character John is suffering from cancer. His friend, portrayed by Edgar Allan Guzman, helps him.

CANCER BATTLE. Joross Gamboa's character John is suffering from cancer. His friend, portrayed by Edgar Allan Guzman, helps him.

Alfonso relies primarily on the strength of the performances of Gamboa and Guzman. Thankfully, the two actors deliver in spades. Sure, they risk turning their characters into stubborn stereotypes with clichéd tics and gestures but the anticipated flamboyance they bestow on their characters is accompanied by remarkable sensitivity.

However, when the film succumbs to melodrama, Alfonso goes for heavy-handed strokes, seemingly in an effort to veil the film's satire for drab seriousness.

The biggest fault of Deadma Walking is its inability to weave together its comedic and dramatic parts. The film never feels seamless. There is always an awkward disconnect between its desire for laughs and its efforts at brash sentimentality. 

NOT THE USUAL. 'Deadma Walking' goes beyond stereotypes.

NOT THE USUAL. 'Deadma Walking' goes beyond stereotypes.

Nevertheless, the sincerity of the queerness of Deadma Walking is infectious. Even if it lacks consistency, it still manages to twinkle through its sheer tenacity. – Rappler.com

 

Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ Tirad Pass. Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.