directed by: Brillante Mendoza
starring: Coco Martin; Jaclyn Jose; Alan Paule
Bruce says: "Filmed in video in only eight days THE MASSEUR tells the story of workers in the Manila sex industry, in particular an all male massage parlor. Director Brillante Mendoza makes a wise choice in telling the story of just one sex worker rather than spreading himself too thin with multiple tales. A detailed view of one subject avoids repetition and sometimes speaks volumes for the group as a whole.
"Iliac is the focus of the film. A native of San Fernando, Iliac suddenly gets a call to come home for his father’s funeral. Off Iliac goes to spend time with a family he has moved to Manila to escape. Iliac also has a girlfriend. She waits impatiently in a taxi outside the massage parlor, drinking smoking and swearing. She screams that Iliac wastes all his sperm on his clients. He climbs into the cab and begins kissing her. Kissing is the only thing that a sex worker won‘t do with a client. 'Kissing is meant for the girlfriend.'
"Scenes from Iliac’s trip home are interspersed with scenes from the massage parlor. Here the camera concentrates on Iliac and a specific customer but it also moves from cubicle to cubicle giving the viewer a full picture of what is going on behind closed doors. The dialogue of the sex workers and the clients was taken directly from a month long series of interviews with real sex workers. The narrative is non-sequential, lending an aura of mystery to the film and making it much more interesting than it otherwise would have been.
"The acting is fairly amateurish but the director gets the most out of the gritty, realistic locations. Mendoza’s material is slight but the choices he made in putting it on the screen are excellent. One gets the feeling that Mendoza’s talent might take a giant leap forward with a decent budget. 3 cats
"THE MASSEUR was shown at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival."