Doppelgangers of the World Unite in Francis Pasion’s Jay (2008) July 14, 2008Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Cinemalaya, Indie Sine, Noypi.
Written and directed by Francis Pasion
Cast: Baron Geisler, Coco Martin, Flor Salanga
In Competition, 2008 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival
Francis Pasion’s Jay wallops with impressive consistency; its build-up from a crime documentary to an introspective of the personal and professional life of its filmmaker – – both characters who carry the same name, only the difference now is that one is living and the other is dead – – surprises with brave and mature handling of a sensitive material, smart, charismatic, indulgent, and it remarkably sets the entire audience ablaze, for contrary to general intuition, Pasion’s exposure to mainstream environment works unbelievably well at his advantage.
It is important to take note that its roots are based on real events. In November 2006, Joel Siervo, a producer of Pinoy Dream Academy was stabbed to death in his apartment in Quezon City. It may not come as a shock to everyone, considering the number of heinous crimes unresolved in the city for the past few months, but to Pasion, it took his screenwriting process to a heavier course, thus allowing his “namesake story” to delve deeper in its milieu. Although I have no way of knowing whether everything on the script is followed, the result pays off – – the interest is unwavering, the effect is enough to leave the theater in marvel; and though there are instances when it arrives to a point of reckless imprudence, the terms are likewise forgivable.
The living who autopsies the life of his dead subject is the most crucial, yet Baron Geisler, despite his showbiz notoriety, delivers admirable dexterity on his part. The way his image is portrayed in media these days, he doesn’t come close between James Dean and Robin Padilla, but this role puts him in good light. The restraint is valid – – it adds to the vulnerability of a journalist who practices incest to his subject without being aware of it. There is substantial basis to invite comparison to Tuhog, but whereas Jeturian’s film succeeds in probing the psychological evil in multi-level incestual relations, hell serious and deadly, Jay digs in a different terrain. The comedy attacks the jugular; its perfect timing and clever dialogues are reminiscent of Abangan Ang Susunod Na Kabanata‘s comic gems. The most effective comedy induces pain – – the agonizing realization of truth.
The controversy that arises in the final scene of Kiarostami’s Taste of Cherry, which much to the Iranian government’s surprise won the Palme d’Or in 1997, is understandable. It is not new – – Godard has already done the same effect in the 60s – – but it remains phenomenal and Kiarostami’s philosophy makes it more open to unnecessary overreading, yet it only proves one point – – the vision is in the filmmaker, not in anyone else. In Jay, Pasion decides to take the same path and finds gold at the end of the road – – the doppler effect on cue.
For another related literature, listen to Eraserheads’s “Hey Jay,” from the band’s sophomore and most important album, Circus. The queer story stays – – as well as the granulation of social and domestic maladies. But for now, though it’s still quite early to make predictions and still too many films to see, this should put everyone on feet: Jay is solid, formidable, and gratifying – – it’s almost perfect. * * * * *