By By Pablo A. Tariman
THE DARING BARBIE OF MARTIN DEL ROSARIO
posted 20 days ago  ·  
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A tricycle driver (Kiko Matos) fights for the love of Barbie (Martin del Rosario) looking like the real thing.

In the Lino Brocka film in the early 70s, gay love and sex was between a married businessman (Eddie Garcia) and his pickup boy-turned-driver (Mario O’Hara).

In the current Perci Intalan film, “Born Beautiful,” the romance has gotten down to the working class with a taxi driver (Akihiro Blanco) and a tricycle driver (Kiko Matos) fighting for the loves of their life, Barbie (Martin del Rosario) who is a beauty pageant trainor and, believe it or not, a mortician under the supervision of aging pageant trainor (Lou Veloso).

The Barbie of del Rosario isn’t really the flaming type, actually more subdued than the visually appealing version of Christian Bables. It is a valid if revealing portrayal after the death of his best friend Trisha (Paolo Ballesteros). Moreover, his character remains exploited by his faithless lovers and a society that looks down on his kind. He is open to being a “normal man” again but in the process, finds himself vilified by moral guardians who turn out to be the devil themselves.

On the side, the movie is about virile husbands open to gay relationships and gays becoming fathers by biological accident. The screenplay even has a good section on how sperms swim to their eggs and thus produce a baby. The name of Ogie Diaz figuring out in the screenplay created a howl of laughter in the audience.

The resounding cheers and applause -- at the end of the screening -- bode well for the box office fate of this rare solo Martin del Rosario-starrer.

The audience screamed at the romantic scenes of Del Rosario with the tricycle driver (Matos) and the taxi driver (Blanco) as though they were watching a Julia Barreto-Joshua Garcia kissing scene.

First standout is the well-written screenplay by a writing team composed of Jun Lana, Rody Vera, Elmer Gatchalian, Ivan Andrew Payawal, and Fatrick Tabada. The dialogues kept the audience guffawing from one line to the other and from one sequence to another.

Like it or not, the latest Perci Intalan film is a worthy sequel to Lana’s “Die Beautiful.”

While Del Rosario very well carved an uncanny, if, commendable portrayal of Barbie, his lovers (Blanco and Mattos) are all candidates for acting trophies and so is his one-night stand with a hooker ( played Chai Fonacier).

Another candidate for acting trophy is Lou Veloso who keeps a stable of morticians among them Barbie and his gang.

At no fault of his, Veloso simply filled the screen with his bravura performance every second of it is oozing with part and parcel of his role.

Direk Perci has come up with a very brave film that offered funny, if humorous slices of gay love and sex among the working class.

The film entertains to the hilt with some moments of truth about working husbands (and yes, tolerant wives) who survive by the skin of their romantic flings.

Ballesteros’s guest appearances (as the late Trisha) in the opening and towards the end was a riot.

It is the very presence of these limitless fun moments (moviegoers were still laughing after the screening) that one yearned for a hint of restraint to balance all those guffaw-eliciting sequences. But one knows comparison will get one nowhere.

On the whole, “Born Beautiful” delivers with great script by Jun Lana and company and absorbing music by Emerson Texon and a good acting ensemble.

“Born Beautiful” directed by Perci Intalan opens in cinemas January 23.


Martin del Rosario as the new Barbie in "Born Beautiful." He has nothing to fear from the first Barbie.
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