A story is neither good nor bad, that always depends on the perspective of the audience. The said individuals themselves can decide, if it is good or bad. With the harsher realities of life being presented in most Pinoy BL’s, “The Boy Foretold By The Stars” feels like it is depicting something different.
The high school setting, the younger characters, and “the out and proud students” in the catholic school they attend, are brilliantly executed. The effeminate characters aren’t afraid to be who they are. There are bullies, and injustices but these boys seem tough, while being seemingly beautiful. There lies the charm of this film, the pretty boys take the harsh reality in stride while retaining their individuality, which is special in its way. A way that is uniquely Filipino!
Religion and masculinity are usually the true antagonists in gay films across the world but here they are as presented as “Side Characters”. It is as if the film wanted to educate the world, on how people in the Philippines view both. It’s surprising how a Priest is the one defending Homosexuality and I can’t think of another film or series that gave an entire scene to the dissertation on it from this perspective. Obviously we have students opposed to his line of reasoning, but the Priest’s direct questions force them to stop and think. That in itself is a powerful and bold thing to do! Nelly, Sissy, and Toots are all common derogatory names for men who aren’t afraid to present themselves in an effeminate way. Normally, they are the side characters presented for comic relief but never given substance. But in this film, they are the main attraction and cornerstone of the film.
So, we have a trio of friends proudly sashay their way across the schoolgrounds, but their gestures never demand attention. They are the masters of their own universe, the way anyone else would. Their voices are as loud as their actions but never once satirical. Instead, they are hopeful romantics smashing through rules and prejudices to be who they are. That is where we meet our main character, Dominic (Adrian Lindayag) one of the three boys who hope to be a good person. But his secret desire for a true love drives the film. He timidly watches from a distance and yearns to talk to the boy he has a secret crush on. But he doesn’t have the requisite courage to do the same. He regularly volunteers for their church lock-in activity called “Journey” and to my surprise Dominic is truly passionate about teaching people!
I can’t get over how lovely it is to see these themes presented in a way that isn’t just a subplot, or a side note. So often in BL’s the characters’ motivations are lost to the love story. We all watch these stories for the romance, but it was very nice to see there is more to these boys than that. Our other main character Luke(Keann Johnson) is the opposite. He has been dating the same girl named Karen (Rissey Reyes) for years and by the time we get to meet him in the film that love is flickering out. The girlfriend keeps missing their agreed-upon meetings, leaving nothing but excuses. His confusion, loneliness, and self-imposed isolation, while he waits for answers, is painful to watch but it gives depth to his character. I adored the cinematic experience of this film, as the brightly lit scenes where we are first introduced to Dominic are in direct contrast to later scenes, when his emotions darken from her indifference. The scene where he lies silent alone in his dark bedroom trying to breathe evenly is one of the best moments in the film.
Timmy (John Leinard Ramos) convinces Dominic to accompany him o a Psychic to get his own fortune read, then gets Dominic’s read as well. A Darling “The Lady Doth Protests too much” scene occurs and I can’t praise the writing and acting enough throughout the scene. Dominic claims he wants nothing to do with any of it in a “Know-It-All” way of talking but rapturously listens to the news of his soulmate appearing in a week. The warning that if he doesn’t act, then his soulmate might be gone causes a look of consternation to appear on his face. Betraying how much he does care, Timmy’s predictions do come true later. The two friends’ machinations work as Peter the schoolboy crush of Dominic signs on to join the “Journey”. Meanwhile, Luke gets his answer as his girlfriend breaks up with him.
If you’re expecting a typical boy meets boy romance, you’ll be disappointed and should watch more Pinoy BL. Dominic takes his volunteer job seriously and instead of situating himself close to Peter, he takes care of Luke throughout their time on the retreat. In an intense scene of the two boys meeting for real, Dominic uses double entendre’s and physical closeness on the blindfolded Luke to get him to trust him(very clever moment). The two split for Luke’s confession and Peter magically appears to flirt with Dominic but mysteriously that doesn’t go anywhere. It’s here that the script of the film deviates from logic and gets disconnected. I wish this wasn’t the case, but there are moments where the characters act of sync with the plot. They are sometimes even forgotten for long lengths of the screen time.
Which would be fine if the film wasn’t almost two hours long and has quite a few subplots, that never get to be fully realized. It’s such an odd way to tell the story, getting me invested in these subjects for unwarranted reasons. That being said the film shifts focus from splintering off storylines to focusing on the organically fluid plot of Luke and Dominic’s blossoming friendship which doesn’t turn to love until the last acts of the film. I enjoyed this aspect immensely as it meant that they truly enjoyed spending time with each other. This further cemented their importance each other’s lives which seemed more real and heartfelt. They aren’t perfect, which to me is a blessing but instead to boys are more curious about one another to the point something where their relationship veers into uncharted territory. I don’t want to get into details on that, as it is the best moments of the film.
It’s all going really well until it crashes in the last thirty minutes of the film. Karen suddenly returns to lay claim over Luke, right after he and Dominic kiss and begin to explore their feelings for one another. You’d think Luke would stand up for his actions as he said he needed Dominic’s forgiveness but instead he does the opposite and throws himself back into his heterosexual lifestyle. I literally was saying “What the hell” over and over as each scene of this car wreck revved up. Then we have the cliché moment where the clearly oblivious Karen that asks Dominic to help her get Luke back. I understand the emotional blow dealt to him. The script then does a double take where Dominic is shown emotionally wounded, but that seems more like an afterthought. I seriously don’t get the point of adding these extra scenes. Why they felt the need to add salt to his wounds, if we never get to see how Dominic helps?
Now, this next bit is a massive spoiler, so you can skip to the final paragraph if you don’t want the spoiler. Watch the film, then read this and give me your opinion on this. Alright, the last ten minutes of the film. Luke summons Dominic to the Journey garden where they kissed for the first time. The two have an altercation where Dominic refuses to accept the reality of their circumstances(that’s fine). But Dominic who is the most rational character of this film grabs Luke and shakes him violently while shouting his refusal to accept things. Luke shouts at Dominic for hurting him before shoving him away. This premise made no actual sense to me. Dominic is not weak, more prone to bouts of hysteria so why depict him this way? Love doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong. So, watching the most original and reasonable character in a BL movie ever, being reduced to this level was certainly disappointing! Putting this beside Luke’s 180 different emotional states just killed the action for me. To add insult to this grievous injury, the film does a “Hello Stranger” retake and leaves the girlfriend plot unresolved, so the men could happily end up together by the end of it.
This is one of the few films, that I feel conflicted about. It was beautifully shot, had amazing characters, and was wonderfully written until the end of it. But the football field size potholes and filler level plot lines that went nowhere took away from the cinematic experience for me. That being said there is a television series in the works that I hope will fix those mistakes. Give it a watch and let me know how you feel about this movie!
Rating- 3 out of 5