© 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  
Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros
Auraeus Solito, Philippines, 2006;
100 min.

           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.

Rating:        C+