INTERNATIONALLY acclaimed director Brillante Mendoza did a movie on Girls Love in “Palitan”. He now does a Boys Love movie in “Sisid”, which will have it exclusive digital world premiere on January 18. We’re afraid it’s not your usual entertaining BL movie about a young man’s gay sexual awakening or the affecting portrait of first romance between two men.
The two lead characters in “Sisid” both seem straight as they both have female partners. When we meet Jason (Paolo Gumabao), he’s been married to his wife, Abby (Kylie Padilla), for seven years and they have just exchanged gifts for their wedding anniversary.
Abby suddenly throws up and it’s not because she’s infanticipating. We learn that she has actually undergone chemotherapy. The next day, they leave on their pickup truck for Pola, Oriental Mindoro, board the ferry, and stay with Abby’s friend, Blessie (Mayton Eugenio), an organic farmer.
Jason has work to do work in Pola as a marine biologist. He coordinates with the mayor of Pola (former actress Ina Alegre, who’s the real mayor of the town.) A local diver, Dennis (Vince Rillon), is assigned to assist him in his underwater surveys.
It turns out Abby joined Jason in this trip so she can match him up with Blessie, a single woman who she asks to take care of her husband when she is gone. But when Jason learns this, he resents the idea. Dennis has a girlfriend, Tanya (Christine Bermas), who’s already pregnant and they don’t know how to tell her parents about it.
The film has a barebones plot and there is no foreshadowing at all that Jason or Dennis will indulge in gay sex. We don’t see their bromance developing at all. But Jason later has a scene in the shower where he pleasures himself while recalling in his mind that time when he experiences cramps and Vince gives him a massage on his arms and shoulder.
Their first sexual encounter happens abruptly. They’re in the middle of the deep blue ocean, alone in their boat in their diving suits, then they stare at each other and are soon kissing passionately.
We then see them both naked on the boat as they make love under the sun and it’s all very sensually shot.
Their next encounter is by the beach at night, right beside the fence of the house where Jason is staying with his wife. It was so careless of Jason, no discretion at all, as anyone can pass by anytime. And so, what do you expect, his wife soon wakes up and goes out to the beach to scream “Baboy!”
Of the two, it’s Vince who is the more aggressive partner. He is all out in the “laplapan” scenes, even opening his mouth several times and sticking out his tongue to lick Paolo. He also works on Paolo’s naked chest and licks his nipple.
But he also does this with Christine Bermas in their love scene on the beach. Vince is so active in the sex scenes we also see him as the one who sits on top of Paolo. So it’s obvious that he’s a bisexual who enjoys doing it with both male and female partners.
As for Paolo, there’s a hint that he’s long been doing the cheating with other men behind his wife’s back. When she confronts him about it, he keeps on saying “I’m sorry”. When she asks why he lied to her, he says he’s just afraid of her reaction if she’d find out the truth about him.
There’s a touching scene in the hospital where Abby forgives Dennis and asks him to take good care of her husband when she’s gone. This is a heartwrenching sentimental angle but it’s not pursued.
Instead, Direk Brillante chooses a bittersweet ending for the final scene between the two illicit lovers. There is not much dialogue, but its emphathetically acted showing inner turmoil. The piercing look of loss and longing on the faces of both Paolo and Vince (specially Vince who’s so charming in this film!) conveys a whole world of unexpressed melancholic emotions while wallowing in inarticulated pain.
Both Paolo and Vince are quite superb, so effortless in conveying their variegated feelings, even in their crying scenes. Kylie Versoza manages to be moving in a lesser role as the doomed wife. Not much is asked from Christine Bermas as Vince’s bride. The ever reliable character actress Irma Adlawan registers better in her scenes as the understanding mother of Vince.
The film also touches on the importance of environmental protection, the carelessness and greed of big business in our nation’s biodiversity. It is beautifully shot and one of the most well photographed films of Direk Brillante. The underwater scenes, for one, are done with lyrical clarity, along with the cinematic sun-drenched splendor of the deep blue sea.
But we just wish it’s not that so leisurely paced and that the story of love and desire between Vince and Paolo is developed and delineated more credibly, so we could have felt how the simmering sexual tension between them blossomed more powerfully. In the end, is the short-lived love they experienced worth all the pain?