By Don Simpson | October 21, 2013
Writer: Jun Robles Lana
Starring: Eddie Garcia, Rez Cortez, Soliman Cruz, Bibeth Orteza, Joey Paras, Allan Paule, Beverly Salviejo, Soxie Topacio, Luz Valdez, Gardo Versoza, Armida Siguion-Reyna
Rene (Eddie Garcia) is a curmudgeonly old man who has lived by himself ever since his mother died. His perpetual state of irritability seems to stem from the fact that Rene did not come out as gay until he was 60 years old and he has never had a romantic relationship with a man. Though some townspeople try to be nice to Rene, his only true friend is his dog, Bwakaw. But even Bwakaw is kept at arm’s length by Rene; even though he speaks to Bwakaw like a human friend, we rarely see Rene touch Bwakaw and the dog is never allowed into his house.
Having essentially given up on life, Rene is just waiting to die. His belongings have long been boxed up and his house is in a dire state of disrepair; it is not long before a coffin is delivered into his living room and all of the lightbulbs in his house have blown out. Judging from his ever-changing will, Rene always assumed that he would be the next in line to go; but as Rene awaits his own demise, he must contend with the death of others who pass before him.
Thanks mostly to Bwakaw, Rene must learn to stop obsessing about death and begin to live life in the present. Rene decides to let Bwakaw sleep in his bed and begins to actually build some human friendships. Heck, Rene even finds a man to obsess over — albeit a macho straight man with whom he has no chance of a relationship.
Jun Robles Lana’s Bwakaw takes an assured yet meandering approach to the narrative, opting to relish in the subtleties of Rene’s everyday existence instead of driving the plot forward. Just as we spend what seems like a couple of minutes watching Rene defecate in his bathroom and then clean himself afterwards, Lana’s direction flourishes in the most mundane aspects of rural Filipino life; thus the resulting film feels more like an ethnographic examination than a fictional narrative. Above all, Bwakaw captures the relentless loneliness of an elderly gay man raised in a world that would never accept him, while simultaneously promoting the importance of still continuing to live one’s life to the fullest despite being marginalized.