The Blossoming Of Maximo Oliveros

The one-sided romance between an effeminate 12-year-old and an idealistic policeman leads to tragedy in Filipino director Auraeus Solito's coming-of-age slum drama. Delicate, sloe-eyed Maximo Oliveros (Nathan Lopez) lives with his father, Paco (Soliman Cruz) and older brothers, moody Boy (Neil Ryan Sese) and good-natured, handsome Bogs (Ping Medina), whose...read more

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The one-sided romance between an effeminate 12-year-old and an idealistic policeman leads to tragedy in Filipino director Auraeus Solito's coming-of-age slum drama. Delicate, sloe-eyed Maximo Oliveros (Nathan Lopez) lives with his father, Paco (Soliman Cruz) and older brothers, moody Boy (Neil Ryan Sese) and good-natured, handsome Bogs (Ping Medina), whose long hair Maxi patiently combs and braids. Their mother's death due to a lack of affordable medical care transformed Paco; he quit his respectable but underpaid factory job and turned to crime. Now he and his older sons deal in stolen cell phones while the local police look the other way. Maxi cooks, cleans and sews for his family, who not only tolerate the fact that he dresses like a girl and negotiates his squalid neighborhood's fetid streets and twisting alleys with a swivel-hipped catwalk swagger, but they seem remarkably OK with it. Though a good student, Maximo has stopped going to school — perhaps because of bullying, though it may just be a matter of money — and divides his days between housekeeping, watching pirated DVDs and playing "beauty pageant" with a handful of equally girlish friends. Then a trio of local toughs attacks Maxi in a dark alley, setting in motion a chain of events that tears his family apart. Maxi is rescued by Officer Vincent Perez (J.R. Valentin), a religious country boy newly assigned to this teeming slum precinct, and it's love at first sight. Maxi begins hanging around the police station, bringing Vincent lunch and making puppy eyes at him. Vincent offers friendship but nothing more, while Boy takes it upon himself to punish the young men who attacked his brother. Two get away with humiliation, but he accidentally kills the third, and Vincent's investigation traps Maxi squarely between his family and his first love. Solito's desire to leave behind the "macho dancer" cliches of gay-themed Filipino films led him into the touchy area of childhood sexuality — gay sexuality involving a child and an adult to boot — and it's to his and screenwriter Michiko Yamamoto's credit that the film doesn't feel deeply creepy. It's always clear that Vincent isn't the kind of man who would take advantage of a lovelorn 12-year-old, thus allowing Maxi's doomed, childish crush to take precedence. Solito elicits an astonishing performance from Lopez, and ends the story on a melancholy note: Maxi has blossomed, but he's also learned some hard truths.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The one-sided romance between an effeminate 12-year-old and an idealistic policeman leads to tragedy in Filipino director Auraeus Solito's coming-of-age slum drama. Delicate, sloe-eyed Maximo Oliveros (Nathan Lopez) lives with his father, Paco (Soliman Cru… (more)

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