Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Man in the Lighthouse (2007) - ★½

Director: Joselitos Altarejos
Writers: Lex Bonife, Joselitos Altarejos
Stars: Harry Laurel, Justin De Leon, Jennifer Lee

The Man in the Lighthouse, or Ang Lalake sa Parola, is a gay-romance film from the Philippines. It's extremely low budget, but it comes from the infamous LGBT film director, Joselito Altarejos. Unfortunately, this is the first film I've seen from the Philippines, and it happens to be one of the worst I've seen in a long time. There are so many faults throughout the film, from acting to cinematography, from dialogue to pacing. I can't say I disliked it, for it left me waiting with a little bit of intrigue for the most part. I waited and waited, but nothing of any substance happened. It's just a 'meh' film, it falls flat by the second act and is entirely forgettable once the credits start rolling. Oh well, I guess I can chuck this on the 'bad LGBT' films pile (which is even larger than the good LGBT films pile). 

A middle-aged man recounts the tale of the 'fairy of the lighthouse,' to a young inquisitive visitor. It just happens to be a love story between his young self, Mateo (Harry Laurel), and a young man from Manila named Jerome (Justin De Leon). It's a badly produced, universal tale of love and woe that just might entertain some people.

The old man recounting the underwhelming tale.
The ultimate fault with this movie is the way it sets up many scenes as if it were a porno. It’s as if the director watched a few sex-tapes, and learned his writing and cinematography skills from them. For example, Jerome is walking around the lighthouse when he spots Mateo and his girlfriend having sex. He stands there, outside the window masturbating… I’m not saying that the scenario is straight out of a porno, but it certainly looked like one. The same goes for another scene, where he watches Mateo paint the lighthouse shirtless. It just looks really dirty, with no artistic value whatsoever. That doesn’t go for the rest of the film, but the horrible reality is that much of it looks no better than a cheap adult film from a $2 bargain bin.

Every now and then, a beautiful scene like this would save it from being completely terrible.

As for the question of, “Is it porn or is it art?” I’d have to go with, neither. Well, all film is art, etc. I just don’t see much beauty, truth, or anything very redeemable in this movie. We see glimpses of penis’, but never any prolonged exposure. There are a few sex scenes, but no visual images of penetration. Although Ang Lalake sa Parola looks X-rated, it is surprisingly tame. The truth is, the sex scenes were just utterly passionless. Mateo and Jerome finally have sex, which is supposed to be the climax of the film. I’d have to call it one of the biggest anti-climaxes I’ve ever seen, due to the inability of the actors to look even remotely attracted to one another. They’re so frigid that they can’t even kiss each other properly, let alone act like they’re fully into the moment. As for the art aspect, there isn’t an ounce of originality to this film. It recycles the same LGBT conventions (and adult film conventions), then churns out a formulaic and messy looking story. Porn or art? I think I’ll stick with neither.

The absolute worst sexual chemistry I've ever seen in a film... 
The last 40 or so minutes of the film is just unconvincing melodrama that will hurt your head. By that point, I had lost all interest in the characters and their romance, partly due to the disappointing climax, and partly due to the fact that watching it felt like a waste of time. It's quite a rude film, but I'm just happy it gives the LGBT community a bit more exposure throughout the world. Every film that is made about the subject will contribute towards society becoming used to, and accepting our presence. The Man in the Lighthouse is definitely not worth watching... I have a feeling that I will forget it in a day or two.

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