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‘Born Beautiful’ Review: Brave, Funny, A Game-Changer

BORN BEAUTIFUL (2019) Review
Directed by Perci Intalan

“Bakit ganyan ang itsura mo? Mukha kang tomboy na nag-aalok ng Bear Brand!” That joke never gets old even if I saw the trailer multiple times already. Perci Intalan’s installment to the monumental 2016 LGBT drama movie Die Beautiful may be short on emotional depth but it’s story is brave, funny and a game-changer for Philippine cinema.

The film for me, is more accessible to the audience. The jokes are doubled, the story isn’t as dramatic as the first one and the issues being raised are relevant.

Born Beautiful is a spin-off of the internationally-awarded MMFF 2016 top-grosser Die Beautiful created by Jun Robles Lana.

After the sudden death of her best friend Trisha, Barbs Cordero tries to go on with her life as a mortuary beautician at Happy Ending Funeral Homes. When another friend dies, Barbs tries to start a new life as a straight man named Bobby. And this triggers a chain of events that leads her to the arms of Trisha’s ex-boyfriend Michaelangelo, her own ex-boyfriend Greg and a woman that barges into her life to turn it upside down again.

Martin del Rosario is beautiful and wonderful as Barbs. I can’t find anything bad about his portrayal as Barbs and that’s hard because Christian Bables’ performance was also terrific. But del Rosario is the perfect replacement. He’s bold, energetic and really convincing as a transwoman. His leading men Akihiro Blanco and Kiko Matos served the charms and our guilty pleasures to people who don’t deserve second chances but we still give it to them, respectively. Paolo Ballesteros and Lou Veloso are scene stealers, they’re most likely to be part of the most memorable moments or supporting characters in a movie this year.

You may say the film is lighter but it’s also packed with socially-relevant issues that may help others who don’t understand some experiences transwomen are going through. As monumental as Die Beautiful is, Born Beautiful raises the bar in telling a story without barriers. This is an unadulterated entertainment as it is also educational. A brave, funny and game-changer that commercial filmmakers could learn a thing or two.

I enjoyed its 90 minutes run and was laughing so hard at its humor and was uncomfortable at times at its language – but that’s a good thing. Because it doesn’t want to be boxed in what’s dictated in our culture. It unfolds its story as real as possible, as profane as possible but the story isn’t sacrificed.

This may be a four-episode series turned into a movie, but the story of how Barbs handles the difficulties that came with him had its satisfying conclusion. It may be an open ending, it feels as though what comes next is a different story already.

23 born beautiful

4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS

4.5 stars

‘Born Beautiful’ is now showing in cinemas nationwide from Cignal Entertainment, OctoberTrain Films and The IdeaFirst Company. Rated R-16 and R-18 by the MTRCB.

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