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Review by Sean Bugg
Rating: (4 out of 5)
Friday, 10/21/2011, 8:00 PM
Feature presentation, $12 at GWU Amphitheatre
Filipino and Tagalog with English subtitles
WE’LL JUST GET this out of the way up front, so to speak: there’s a lot of nudity in Pulupot, the story of a group of Filipino sex workers who work together, dream together and — possibly — fall in love. That may be the most important thing for some, and it’s certainly alluring, but there’s also a sweet little love story hiding at the core.
Eva runs a beauty shop by day and a karaoke host bar by night (a host bar being an establishment where you pay for the privilege of having one of the boys working there join you at your table, and pay more to have him leave with you). A transgender woman who tries to do the best for her group of friends and employees, Eva harbors an unrequited love for Edgardo, the most popular boy at her bar.
It’s not hard to see why Edgardo keeps bringing back the customers, both male and female. Not only is he beautiful, but he has a natural sweetness about him — he goes out of his way to provide for his family and give coins to the children in his village, which is little more than a collection of shacks with no running water. But after his girlfriend leaves for Canada, he finds himself living as a kept boy for a closeted (and jealous) doctor.
The tone is suitably pitched to soap opera, although there are random descents into amateurism, such as a minor character looking directly into the camera. But even so, the dilemma of all the characters is sharply delineated, as each of them dreams of escaping: to America, from the sex trade, into love with each other. Some find their dreams, others don’t, but Pulupot always keeps its heart.