|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
|The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros
L to R : Nathan Lopez as Maxi and JR
Valentin as Victor in The
Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros,
Auraeus Solito, Philippines, 2006;
Filipino cinema is filled with stories of first loves, told either as
tragic tearjearkers or as light comedies. Rarely, though, does such a
film center on a gay character; The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros
is that exception. While there are some intrepid American movie makers
who dare to deal with the sexual awakening of pre-teens (see
Twelve and Holding or Wild Tigers I Have Known both also
included in New Directors), the topic remains mostly on the fringes.
Screenwriter Michiko Yamamoto and director Auraues Solito have
crafted an intriguing and interesting tale built around a 12-year-old gay
boy who is well-adjusted and reasonably happy. Maximo or "Maxi"
(Nathan Lopez giving a strong performance) spends most of his days
cooking and cleaning for his father and two older brothers, all of whom
clearly love and support the boy despite his "differences." That the elder
Oliveros men make a living as petty thieves, mostly stealing cell phones,
doesn't phase young Maxi. When not keeping house, Maxi is off with
like-minded youths staging mock beauty pageants or watching bootleg
DVDs at a local establishment.
Maxi's world gets turned upside down, though, when he's attacked
by some ruffians and rescued by Victor (JR Valentin), a new policeman
with strong morals and a chiseled physique. The boy develops a crush
on the policeman who doesn't exactly discourage the attention -- at least
at first. After a young man is killed while being robbed of his cell phone,
attention shifts to Maxi's older brother and Victor tries to pry information
from the youngster. Maxi is then torn between his growing affection for
Victor and his loyalties to his family.
In some ways the film breaks new ground, while in other ways it
reinforces some of the clichés of the genre.