Issue 2, 2007
Last Full Show
Alvin S. Concha, M.D.
Filipino love story movies are notoriously lengthy, but this
one was able to depict a romantic relationship in a relatively
short time. A couple of comments on this film in YouTube
talk about the shortness of the film. I am of the belief
that, in 18 minutes, filmmaker Mark V. Reyes has already
succeeded in laying down the emotional and political aims
of this movie, Last Full Show (2005).
Set in Manila, the film follows the sexuality exploration
of Crispin, a rich teenaged boy who goes to school with
a chauffeur. In a dark old movie house frequented by men
who seek out sex with other men, thirty-something Gardo,
a regular in the place, approaches Crispin, who has managed
to enter the theatre unaccompanied by the chauffeur. In
a very short time after they meet, the two passionately
kiss each other on the lips, the kiss being the film maker’s
rendering of the start of a sexual relationship.
What follows are cinematic sequences which portray
Crispin and Gardo’s affair, so carefully edited as to weave
a romantic love story at one level and to suggest a steamy
sexual liaison at another.
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The blossoming bond is severely opposed by Jess, Gardo’s friend,
who points out that the situation might lead to the detriment of
Crispin’s studies and that the relationship is something that
might cause Gardo to end up in jail, Crispin being a minor. Gardo
doesn’t want to listen to any of Jess’s warnings. Crispin, on the
other hand, manifests profound love by filling a wide corkboard
in his room with movie tickets, presumably those which he bought
for his trysts with Gardo. Another picturesque sequence shows the
lovers enjoying an airy ride while hanging from the back of a jeepney. After the ride, Crispin
agrees with Gardo that riding a jeepney is fun and that he
doesn’t need a chauffeured car anymore.
As the relationship intensifies, Crispin gives Gardo a
precious necklace, a family heirloom. When Bert, Crispin’s
suspecting chauffer, learns about the gift, he cunningly
intervenes, one night, by preventing Gardo from going
inside the movie house where Crispin desperately waits for
his lover. The film closes with a sequence trailing Crispin
getting out of the movie house after waiting for Gardo to
no avail. ‘I want to go home,’ Crispin tells Bert. The very
last scene shows a striking radiance produced by the front
lights of Crispin’s car.
The liberal use of verbal and visual metaphors helps in
deriving multiple meanings from the movie’s sequences.
In the film, ‘dance’ is used to suggest sex. ‘Soup’ is used to
refer to the soup that Crispin and Gardo are having at their
favorite restaurant, and to the body fluids they exchange
during sex. Similarly, a cock-fighting scene can be taken as
it is or, because the conversational context of the scene is
right after Gardo and Crispin were supposed to have sex,
can be read as a metaphor for male-male sex, ‘cock-to-cock’,
as it were.
There have been many depictions of male-male
relationships within Filipino movies before, which are of
the comedy genre. It is common, for instance, to watch a sequence
wherein a father slaps his son’s butt or pinches his ear after catching the
son flirting with another boy. With the son letting out an exaggerated
scream of pain and a musical score that lends a side-splitting mood to
the scene, the father’s moralising manoeuvres over his son’s sexuality
are successfully delivered for the spectators to easily shelve as just
another slapstick rendition within the movie. The audience is almost
always compelled to laugh, allowing the scene a non-confrontational
way of presenting male-male sexual attraction and dismissing the grim
issue of external forces intervening in personal desires.
But Last Full Show is set in a serious mood. This is one of very few
Filipino films that deal with the intricacies of male-male love in a rather
demanding way. The audience has to confront the issues
without taking them lightly.
The first few sequences of the film illustrate Bert’s role
in Crispin’s life. He not only chauffeurs Crispin, but
also stands as the boy’s physical (and, eventually, moral)
guardian. Bert’s sly intervention during the film’s climax,
therefore, serves as a metaphor for heterosexist society
that constantly tries to police ‘non-conforming’ sexual
relationships. There was no actual confrontation between
Crispin and Bert, and yet Crispin felt so uneasy, and guilty,
after the driver intervened in the relationship.
One wonders whether the conclusion can be read in
different ways. For one, Bert, who takes on a heterosexist
deportment was depicted as a devious antagonist, especially
during his confrontation with Gardo. In a sense, the film
also effectively demonises the heterosexist and ekes out a
subversive stance of celebrating male-male love.
And so, despite putting up a climactic sequence
that emphasises Bert’s adamant efforts at ending the
relationship, Reyes leaves us with generous space to create
several closures from which we may choose. At face value,
‘I want to go home’ may signify Crispin’s self-policing: ‘I give
up and I want to go back to my old hetero-normative,
anti-paedophilic standards of affection’. Yet, considering the
foreshadowed room of Crispin, where he keeps a corkboardful
of movie tickets, ‘I want to go home’ may also mean ‘I want to
return to where I can muse over positive emotions, in my room,
which is a haven of everything that reminds me of my love for
Gardo’. Furthermore, bearing in mind the poignant image of
a very bright light (metaphor for a ‘bright idea’) during the
last few seconds of the film, the ending may also mean ‘I want to
go home… Hmmm, I have an idea: I will take the jeepney next
The last sequence ultimately highlights Reyes’ genius, as well
as his authentic trust for the film spectators to derive their own
meanings out of the film, as if to say: ‘Choose your own politics’.
Alvin Concha is a medical doctor specialising in Family and
Community Medicine. He works in Davao Regional Hospital in
the Philippines as a clinical and research consultant. He also heads
the Human Resources and Training Unit of the same hospital. He is
currently completing a Master’s course in Applied Social Research,
Major in Gender Studies.