With all the talk of the Metro Manila Film Festival taking two steps back from last year’s groundbreaking lineup, a handful of entries stand out as alternatives to what critics politely call “more commercially viable” films. One of those films is Deadma Walking, a movie about cancer-stricken John (Joross Gamboa) who enlists the help of his outspoken friend, Mark (Edgar Allan Guzman), to stage a fake funeral so he can experience his own death. While it is understandable to compare Deadma Walking to last year's Die Beautiful, it feels different enough to merit a separate viewing.
Good, but not quite great
With a Palanca Award-recognized screenplay as its backbone, expectations for this movie were reasonably high. And we’re happy to say that it delivers for the most part: top-notch acting, laugh out loud moments, and exchanges that will leave you misty-eyed.
Rare is a movie where moviegoers can go from reaching for a tissue to bursting out in fits of laughter and Deadma Walking succeeds in running viewers through a gauntlet of emotions. Gamboa did a commendable job in what is probably his best lead role performance to date. Guzman was impeccable in his flamboyant portrayal of Mark and should be a frontrunner for the best supporting actor award.The story will not blow you away, but it will keep you entertained for the movie’s entire run, with a few surprises here and there.
The only quibble we have is that the movie lacks a level of polish and cohesiveness that could have elevated it from being a good movie to one of the greats. At times, it seemed like a Seth McFarlane show with the numerous cutaways, which is definitely part of its charm but there were too many, and sometimes it even felt like there were unsuccessful attempts to make people laugh. We’re not sure you can get tired of seeing the great Eugene Domingo on-screen ever, but it was pretty close.
Love it for what it is
While Deadma Walking is far from an automatic classic, it is definitely a must-watch. It is a movie that knows what it is and delivers on that premise. At the heart of the film is a story not about death, but living life.
It is heart-warming and, even if framed in the context of a gay friendship, the movie feels real as it deals with family and love. You’ll laugh, you’ll enjoy the performances from the two leads and the many cameos, and you might even shed a man-tear before it’s over.
But if there’s one other thing we can take away after watching Deadma Walking, it’s the hope that more movies like it will eventually qualify for the “commercially viable” tag not because they need to, but because they deserve to.