Better Dead Than Sorry: A Review Of MMFF's Deadma Walking
On a very superficial level, one might think 'gay in a casket', and conclude Deadma Walking is just a 'trying hard copycat' of last year's Die Beautiful. Well, that would be a shame; as while comparisons will inevitably be made, they are both unique, and audience-worthy films. To pigeonhole them as gay films and thus, identical; would be like saying The Godfather and Goodfellas are both Mafia films, and if you've seen one, you've seen the other.
In fact, the screenplay for Deadma predates Die Beautiful. For Deadma, writer Eric Cabahug copped a Palanca Award, and there's a depth and texture to the story that elevates it beyond 'one trick pony'. On the surface, it's about John (Joross Gamboa) and Mark (Edgar Allan Guzman), best friends and both gay. When John discovers he has a terminal illness, he conspires with Mark and dreams up the scheme of faking his death in order to see who will attend his wake and what they'll say. If you think about it, this is in fact quite common, the morbid fascination we have over what people will think of us when we're gone. This is examined through a laugh-filled lens; with gallows humor punctuating the script.
It's as the film dwells on Family, Friendship and Values, that while still lighthearted, the drama and texture of the screenplay reveals itself. There's an ex-beauty queen mother, an estranged sister, a man our two leads 'shared', and countless other scenarios that all add to the rich tone of the film. Our local gay world's fascination with beauty pageants, artistic French films filled with existential angst, and other such subjects are all given their turn in the spotlight. And even the drama-filled moments are deflated with humor before getting too serious.
And oh yes, the cameos! Director Julius Alfonso must possess some 'pull', getting all these major stars to make the time, and lend their 'star power' to this film. It's part and parcel of the joy watching this Deadma Walking.