It was rather a pleasant watch than fancy. A poignant afternoon movie that effortlessly dose you with laughter while at the same time pokes fun at death. It was really ironic to sit through a two hours movie that subtly talks about life when the protagonist, an old gay grump Rene, is just waiting for his last breath.
The 75 years old Rene (Eddie Garcia) is not alone though. Alongside is the titular character, Bwakaw (Princess), a voracious stray dog that accompanies Rene who visits his friends downtown. Bwakaw is by all means his only best friend but Rene realized it only until Bwakaw was diagnosed of cancer in a heartwarming “Confession by the window” scene.
The movie is well plotted but direction is somehow restrained that resulted to gaps of silence between questions and the answers, thus making you impatiently clutch or process contrivances. However, silence was intentionally if not necessarily imbued to the story. The quietude fills the atmosphere with sincere bleakness that greatly conforms to the depiction of lonesome living at an old age.
The first half of the movie is filled with humor that while predictable, is astoundingly effective. One remarkable scene is Rene’s unintentional mock-up funeral where his friends rushed to his house bursting in tears only to be frightened by a sleeping man shaken on his casket. Comedy flows freely in Bwakaw because it’s centered on the dramatic life of an old man surrounded mostly by his comic friends. But since Rene is not just an old man, but an old gay man and so does some of his friends I believe comedy is self-existent by nature. Rene’s grumpy character maintains a saturated tone and suddenly, humorously gets tinted by his harsh remarks. If you’re familiar with sarcasm then you’ll get a handful of it. Just Eddie Garcia’s add libs that will tickle your ribs!
But of course, the heart of the film is drama. Set in a rustic province where an old weather-beaten house stands and a man who lived a life full of regret lives, the movie is like an old photograph that brings happy memories at the same time clouds you with eternal sadness. In its relaxed pace, the movie is but a heartfelt masterpiece. The director, Jun Lana knows how to mesmerize the audience with visuals that elicits strong emotions and while not all subplots are necessary, each contributes to fulfill the director’s bucket list for the film. One of the most delicate scene in the movie was when Rene kissed Sol. Some people might actually cringe but it was actually the saddest part of the story. For an old man who came out of the closet when it was all too late, a kiss out of love and desire can be on top of his bucket list but because he’s gay – he was condemned, shamed and hated. With Eddie Garcia on the lead role I must say that he well deserves the best actor award in Cinemalaya 2012 (and even more than that) as his portrayal of “Rene” is one of the most remarkable performances in the Philippine Cinema. Bwakaw is truly a triumph in both acting and film-making.
As it tries to paint stories of the past into the present, we see Rene surrounded by amusing almost real life characters – A nosy neighbor (Beverly Salviejo), a gentle priest (Gardo Versoza), a hot-tempered queer (Joey Paras), a considerate friend (Soxie Topacio), concern colleagues (Alan Paule, Luz Valdez, May-I Fabros), an old love (Ms. Armida Siguion-Reyna), a failed romance (Rez Cortez) and a loving dog to his master.
Bwakaw leaves imprints of an old man walking, ready to die, but decided to live the life while waiting for his time. A life that is simple, lonesome but sweet.