The Thank You Girls (Charliebebs Gohetia, 2008) February 2, 2009Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Indie Sine, Noypi, Queer.
Written and directed by Charliebebs Gohetia
Cast; Gie Salonga, July Jimenez, EJ Pantujan, Kit Poliquit
A wonderful look on the lives of gay beauty pageant losers, The Thank You Girls is a playful debut from Brillante Mendoza’s frequent editor, Charliebebs Gohetia. It weaves the strands of its various characters through a provincial contest to form a charming yet inconsistent whole. Gohetia camps up and delivers; he has an impressive knack for dialogues, real and witty, absurd but absolutely enjoyable. I admit to being ignorant on these competitions so the experience of seeing it is quite a surprise. The pageant serves as the film’s backbone, cleverly edited to piece the individual stories of the participants together, giving us a view of their rather difficult life. It is also some sort of a road movie, the jeepney taking the characters to their next pageant, the jeepney that narrates, as it sees these characters talk, laugh, engage in petty arguments, stop by to eat, make fun of themselves, and tease men, the tasteful music reminding us of their unpaved roads to self-fulfillment.
It loses me in the middle, the time when I feel Gohetia has disappeared from his work. The characters are remarkable but their stories, though interesting, fail to leave a mark. The wit is impermanent, like humor in comics placed randomly, and Gohetia hesitates to strip them naked. It may be his decision to keep everything steady, toned down and mild-mannered, as real as it could get, but a little rising action would have helped. I fully recognize Gohetia’s competence as an editor (in fact he should also be credited by way of mentioning that the only two great films of Mendoza, Manoro and Tirador, are results of his tailoring genius). In The Thank You Girls, he has done the most he could with the pins and needles in his sewing box, giving it freshness and unique vibe that it rightfully deserves. Gohetia has lost some crayons, that’s why when the end credits start to appear it looks like a fading vermillion, but if this film will stand side by side with any recent work on the genre, it certainly is a manna worth recognizing.