FILM REVIEW: Tenderness is fortitude

Community News & Features Jul 12, 2019 at 4:15 pm

Rainbows_Sunset_posterFILM REVIEW: Rainbow’s Sunset (2018)

By Ysh Cabana
The Philippne Reporter

Filled with social commentary, and stellar cast, Rainbow’s Sunset offers up a pleasantly made yet astonishingly strenuous storyline of a slice-of-life Filipinx family. There’s an extra dose of melodrama in this film, which is inspired by a true story according to director Joel Lamangan.

Octogenarian Ramon Estrella (Eddie Garcia) is a seasoned politico who rethinks retirement by living with his terminally-ill friend Fredo (Tony Mabesa). He receives the blessings of Sylvia (Gloria Romero), his wife of six decades. As it turns out that the two bosom buddies are romantically in love with each other from childhood until their sunset years. Their clan is scandalized.

Each of their three adult children has their own view why their former senator-dad’s decision of unfurling his sexuality and moving in with their gay godfather has an impact to their hometown. Each has their own burden. The eldest among the siblings is a bigoted bureaucrat — expected to be scion to their father’s electoral legacy but is flawed in moral character. Second is mayora, who is the presumptive heiress — has enough authority to instruct men around them to control the situation. Lastborn is an activist and formidable feminist who prefers to take the side of their old parents.

Rainbows-Sunset-3-700x394“If only we don’t equate being queer with weakness or novelty,” the youngest says to her older sister over a table conversation. Imagine what townsfolk would think, the others say.

Rainbow’s Sunset is a departure from bakla (gay) and its representations in Philippine cinema as flamboyantly effeminate in dress, speech, mannerisms, and interests. It conflates the idea of non-normative gendered identity as a subject and same sex relationship may not necessarily be comedy looking to parody or shock. It is Lamangan’s contribution to a larger body of work on the subculture of gayness, for the lack of a direct translation. As J.Neil Garcia points out in his Philippine Gay Culture, there is a distinction between bakla or man who subjectively sees himself as a woman and his macho partner, the “real man” whom he seeks out for sexual favors.

Rainbows-Sunset-5-700x394In doing a narrative analysis, one can digress the bakla’s desire for social acceptance can only be fulfilled, not by co-optation of a heteronormative gender embodied by the character of the matriarch in the film. It is a radical depiction of a more egalitarian relationship between two masculine, gender-intransitive bakla. Their legitimate gender category is reclaimed after decades of social prejudices and conforming to the expectations of the public.

Contradiction is what defines this as a melodrama. Strength vs. tenderness. Weakness vs. fortitude. Power vs. force. Conflict vs. solidarity. Learning vs. unlearning. These are not necessarily binaries, but more of complexity in moving image presented to the viewers.

Rainbows-Sunset-6-700x394At time unwittingly funny and served with as much histrionics, the plot felt a bit superficial. While there are notable technical misgivings in the script as whole, there is potential goldmine at the end of the Rainbow.

Eddie Garcia died recently after succumbing to a cervical spine injury while filming a new TV soap opera in Manila. He was bestowed a Special Jury Prize for this role in the 2018 Metro Manila Film Festival.

Rainbow`s Sunset premiered in Canadian cinemas in June


Rainbow’s Sunset

Director: Joel Lamangan; writer: Ferdinand Lapuz, Joel Lamangan & Enrique Ramos; screenplay: Enrique Ramos; editor: Mai Calapardol cintematographer: Rain Yamson; music: Emerzon Texon; production design: Jay Custodio; sound: Alrx Tomboc, Albert Michael Idioma; assistant director: Rosswhil Hilario; executive producer: Harlene Bautista; line producer: Dennis C. Evangelista; associate producer: Ferdinand Lapuz; Rated PG for mature subject matter. In Filipino and English, with English subtitles. Running time: 110 mins.

Starring: Eddie Garcia, Tony Mabesa, Gloria Romero, Tirso Cruz III, Aiko Melendez, Sunshine Dizon, Max Collins, Albie Casiño, Shido Roxas, Jim Pebanco, Tanya Gomez, Sue Prado