The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros
by Rick Villalobos
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A world, reddened by corruption and death, unite a family of thieves surviving in the slums of the Philippines. Nathan Lopez is Maxi - a gay pre-teen and the youngest of three sons living in a dilapidated apartment building with their father, a middle aged con artist. Victor is a policeman that befriends Maxi while on a routine stroll through a dodgy neighborhood. He soon becomes a mentor to the young boy and attempts to guide him towards a positive alternative, an honest living.
Maxi is a flamboyant youngster that crosses the threshold of being the stereotypical gay character. He wears makeup, cross dresses, cooks, cleans, and decorates. A beauty pageant in the middle of a living room reenacted by Maxi and his friends (all boys) is a whimsical approach at his sexuality. His choice of life is apparent and accepted. Maxi is an affable character that compliments the storyline. The plot is a classic choice of good and evil translated well enough in any language.
Director Auraeus Solito sculpts a unique film that is heartfelt. The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros is not a story about a gay character and his taking of who he is. This is a film that queries the harsh encounters between the corrupt and the innocent. Screenwriter Michiko Yamamoto creates a story that is honest and callous. It is a believable depiction of a world that exists for many of us to some degree.
This picture has all the signs of an independent film: a small budget, a list of not so famous actors, and the occasional camera angel gone wrong. Its charm trounces any mediocre expectation. It is a film worth learning from as the lines of intolerance are crossed each day and we are confronted by new hurdles. We lead by example and Maxi is a great example to follow.
The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros is the official Philippine entry for the 2007 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.
Rick Villalobos is a film critic living in Chicago.
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