‘Torotot’: Engrossing

PNS — WHEN it comes to films about infidelity, Director Maryo de los Reyes rules, as he has shown in past works like “My Other Woman,” “Sinungaling Mong Puso,” “Sa Ngalan ng Pag-ibig,” “Linlang,” and “Laman.” Now, he tops all those films with his latest work, “Torotot” (Destierro),” certainly one of the best films of the year. As always, he delivers a cautionary tale about the wages of adultery. Here, he fully explains the meaning of “destierro”, the punishment for adulterous crimes.

The film follows the story of two married couples, Marie and Leo (Maui Taylor and Baron Geisler), Rita and Gabby (Precious Adona and Yul Servo). Maui and Precious are best friends. The same goes with Baron and Yul. The film’s opening scene shows Baron catching Maui in flagrante with her lover, Andrew Schimmer. The story is then told in flashbacks that usually start with a video of a New Year celebration scene where the two couples are both present.

Baron is puzzled why his veterinarian wife is hostile to him even if he’s trying his best to win her attention. She is just more interested in her dogs. Maui refuses to talk and it’s only much later that the reason why she chooses to separate from him is revealed. Their relationship ends in violence.

The second half of the film is focused on Precious and Yul. Precious is not satisfied with their sex life as Yul is the type of man who dozes off immediately after satisfying himself in bed. Precious ends up making love to a package of frozen bacon. Precious gets attracted to a hunky butcher (Anton Bernardo) whose wife (Maricar de Mesa) is a cripple. She gets to join a prayer meeting that Anton also attends regularly and they end up making love in the toilet or in the kitchen while the prayer meetings are going on. Yul learns about this, gets a gun, and also catches them while in the heat of their forbidden lovemaking.

“Torotot” is a word that connotes being unfaithful. Working wonders with Jun Lana’s screenplay, Maryo de los Reyes comes up with an engrossing serious film about marital relationships that’s masquerading as a salacious skin flick. The film is told with the right sensibility and the proper nuances that give it more absorbing texture. This is an indie digital flick in treatment, but it’s definitely so much better than his last mainstream film, “A Love Story”, which is much more glossy but has unsatisfying concessions to commercial considerations.

The acting is generally way above average. Maui delivers a sterling performance as the adulterous wife who has a valid ax to grind against her husband. She never goes OA, handling even her most emotional scenes with just the right mixture of anger and disdain. Precious is passable for a newcomer, but there are some scenes that she doesn’t seem to fully comprehend you’d wish the role was given to a more experienced actress who could have done wonders with it.

It’s the two men who truly excel and give brilliant performances.

Baron’s personal life may be in the doldrums right now, but as far as his career is concerned, he seems to be on a winning streak. After his much deserved best actor win as the gay news reporter in “Jay,” he now comes up with another compelling portrayal as the cuckolded husband who commits a crime of passion. His character here is quite well written. He’s the frissy type of well groomed guy who goes to a dermatologist regularly to make sure his skin is always flawless.

He can be nominated as best actor for both his performances in “Jay” and in “Torotot.”

The same goes for Yul Servo, who also just won a best supporting actor award as the well meaning NPA chief in “Brutus.” He gives another effortless, very natural performance as the clueless husband who chooses to tackle his problem in a manner that is the direct opposite of that of his best friend.

The ending where he goes to visit someone in prison is reminiscent of the ending of “Laman,” where he also visits Lolita de Leon (where is she now?) in jail after a murder.

Also giving uniformly fine supporting portrayals are Anton Bernardo, Maricar de Mesa and Dianne Monsanto who only has one scene but really shines in it. Sadly, we can’t reveal here the role she plays as it will spoil your viewing pleasure.

One of the best things in the film is the editing by Jess Navarro.

The film goes back and forth in time and also offers dream sequences and varying points of view, but you’ll never get confused. The sensitive musical score by Jesse Lucas is also a big asset, but we wish the cinematography was better as some of the night scenes are just inadequately lighted.

We understand that film will have to be re-edited for it to be shown in some malls. We honestly hope they’ll show it uncut as there’s nothing in the movie that is plain gratuitous. Everything is perfectly justified and, honestly, it’s very tame compared to other sex flicks in the past. “Torotot” is a thought-provoking film with a mature theme meant for mature audiences. It deserves to be shown uncut.