My two most favorite scenes in the movie Kasal (The Commitment) directed by Joselito Altarejos are the dialogue-less squabble scene of the two main characters in the middle of a green-lush alleyway in which instead of spoken dialogues, a sweet Tagalog love/wedding song is being played and the passionate love making scene that features the two main characters along with the old-timer veteran Filipina actress Boots Anson Roa.
I loved the long-shot dialogue-less quarrel scene because even though you could not hear what the characters are articulating you can actually see and feel from afar what they are saying. This one is a truly magical achievement for the director who was able to capture such a rare feat. Very seldom in a Filipino-made film that I have seen this. Usually in a Filipino movie, for a message to be conveyed it needs to be overtly spoken and for an emotion to be felt the main character should be shot close up.
The other impressive scene was the pink love-making part of the movie. Aside from the challenging erotic calisthenic-demands for the actors, the scene was further made difficult because a film clip of the well-respected and morally-right veteran actress Boots Anson Roa is being flashed and projected directly onto their skin. It’s like having sex with someone while your senior citizen elementary school religion teacher is closely watching. How on earth can you attain the ecstasy and worldly bliss? Thus, kudos to the director who was able to think and execute something as unique as this.
Aside from these two richly flavored scenes in the film, Kasal (wedding in English) was able to highlight various dynamics about marriage, love, commitment and family. And what is so impressive about it is that these dynamics were navigated in an incredibly solid and cohesive manner. The impressive story also depicts the irony of a happy wedding celebration which can actually be the reason for sadness, struggles and troubles by those involved by it. The story and scenes were so close-to-reality viewers inside the theater were expressing their unconcealed elated reaction while the movie is running.
Though the main characters did not end up being together as an item and that the ending was rather sad, you nevertheless will feel – if you would just deeply contemplate – that the lead characters in the story will be just fine in the future. And that is another remarkable achievement of this film. The ending was a sad silent pause yet still pleasant.
Now I can say that I already have a favorite Altarejos film. I had some problems with the technical aspect of the movie most especially the dubbing. But all these were easily erased by the trueness and sincerity of the story as well as the impressive execution by that of the superb director. (neillangit.com)
For the past couple of years that I’ve been attending Cinemalaya, I’ve usually steered clear of Director’s Showcase entries. The primary reasons for this are: money doesn’t grow on trees, time is gold, and I’d really rather see what brilliant new filmmakers have to offer. Another thing, some veteran directors who join the festival have their roots deep into mainstream cinema, and it so happens that bad (mainstream) habits die hard.
But this year, a refreshing film took the spotlight. Joselito Altarejos’ ”Kasal” won Best Film, beating even the most sought-after entry ”Hustisya.” Of course, stories about same-sex relationships have graced the indie silver screen for years — of which I haven’t seen many. But of those I’ve seen (local or foreign), “Kasal” is probably the most realistic and relatable representation of same-sex relationships. The characters and their chemistry are so genuine that you know the film isn’t just talking about gender. It’s truly, simply about two people in love, struggling with the universal difficulties of love.
“Kasal” gives its audience a rare, intimate view into the everyday life of a same sex couple — complete with the mundanity, the sizzlingly detailed sex, and the emotional nuances that pretty much every other romantic relationship has. It doesn’t just linger on the challenge of being homosexual in a conservative society but also delves deeper into the struggles within the relationship. Instead of highlighting the difficulties unique to same-sex relationships, the film focuses on what makes them just like others.
An interesting point about “Kasal,” especially as a Director’s Showcase entry, is that it oozes with everything indie. In a category reserved for well-known directors with mainstream techniques, “Kasal” stands out as a truly independent film, treatment-wise. It looks like a relatively small production. Many of the scenes seem to be shot in convenient locations, primarily indoors. Tight cinematography take us right into the comfort zones of the characters, showing us how they are at home, at work, with friends, and with family. And with the exhaustive, continuous, and uncut sex scene that runs for probably at least 5 minutes, “Kasal” is as intimate as it gets.
Of all the film’s honesty, what truly stands out are the two parallel scenes shot from behind a window: the opening scene taken from the condominium balcony, and the scene with the lovers engaged in a heartbreaking fight on an empty street, as seen – but not heard – from inside the car. These two scenes noticeably put a distance between the characters and the camera. Somehow, the audience is suddenly cast aside to the role of an outsider. But at the same time, from this distance, we are able to see the gap between the two lovers, no matter how entwined together they are. It’s no longer the actors’ faces that speak to us, but the space of uncertainty surrounding them, and which threatens to drive a wedge between the two souls painfully clinging to each other.
In a genre that represents a group largely treated as a minority, “Kasal” is incredibly inclusive. It portrays the problems that lack of communication can cause in relationships — homosexual or otherwise — and even touches on familial conflicts. The natural acting — Arnold Reyes and Oliver Aquino delivered some of the most convincing performances I’ve seen in recent years — and the ordinariness of the scenarios make the film easy to relate to. The conversations also seem spontaneous. As in real life, it’s in the slight changes in tone and the sudden moments of silence that we see how easily we tend to sweep things under the rug, and at the same time, how hard it is for us to actually forget. (thescreenreader.com)