Movie Review: Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (The Dance of Two Left Feet)


Don’t let the poster fool you, this movie is not a cheap rendition of Black Swan or those goodie-two-shoes dance chick flicks; nor does it immediately involve mediocre gay pornography; no, this movie revolves around a brilliantly woven plot of poetry, dance, and struggle of and for fragile emotions.

Three, primary and only, characters dominate this indie film: a dance/literature teacher (Jean Garcia), and two of her students (Paulo Avelino and Rocco Nacino). All of them are involved in an intricate love/hate relationship that is fully exposed in both dance and spellbinding poetry. Their actions spawn developments in their persona, shattering conventions about love, and bringing upon the audience a truly creative and original story.

The Plot Rundown

Jean Garcia is your typical Filipino Literature professor. She starts out reading by a book on Philippine Poetry, slowly reading a poem about the merits of one’s memory. Amidst the chairs sat Paulo Avelino, spellbound by the caress of the words that trickle down his teacher’s lips. He’s mesmerized, even up to the point of following her after class, towards his teacher’s freelance dance class.

Enter Rocco Nacino, a prodigy of Jean and lit student, who appears to notice Paulo’s obsession with his much older teacher. Rocco offers to give his love-struck classmate dance lessons, in order to impress Jean. Paulo accepts, and thus starts a friendship with a lot of implied imageries and symbolisms that make you scratch your head in wonder with what the hell’s between the two men.

Paulo himself exudes dancing prowess, and when the time came when he entered Jean’s class, Jean was impressed. Jean, although initially unaware of Rocco’s secret dance tutorials, suspects something between Paulo and Rocco. She confronts Rocco, to ask if there is some truth with her suspicion (of the dance lessons, not of something else you perverted little person). Rocco confesses. She then confronted Paulo, to ask why he did such thing, or why is it even necessary to do such, to impress her? For simple praises? He storms out, angry at Rocco’s tattle-tailing.

The dance partnership goes on a nose-dive, with both men, construed by their anger (misplaced in some occasions). Jean steps in to save the relationship; she proffered for assistants in a debutante’s dance routine. The men immediately, although reluctantly obliged, venting out their anger at one another while performing the dance.

After which, we learn about Jean, a solitary of an eskinita. She sees herself in the mirror, growing older by the day. Wrinkles starting to show.

A series of events followed after which, the men, started to rebuild their relationship by joining Jean’s dance adaptation of the Filipino epic Humadapnon. Rocco and Paulo eventually filled the two leading roles, Paulo as Humadapnon, a Datu who seeks to find the woman he loves, and Rocco as a priestess, clothed as a man, to help Humadapnon to vanquish the evil temptresses that vie for his heart. The movie ends, with a dance (obviously), but of a different ambiance, a different tone. I’ll let you watch the movie to find out.

Undertones

The entire film is filled with properly placed silence. What I mean is that there are scenes where silence, where you can hear a pin drop, is beautifully placed. Along with this silent tone, one can hear the soft rapping of feet on hard wood, the squeaks of dancing, the hard and forceful breathing, the little intricacies that adds more humanity than that of a poorly covered soundtrack.

The dance, for the most part, is generated and supported beautifully by the poetry (due in part to Ophelia Dimalanta’s poetical masterpieces). Love is at the center of everything, from the small glances of Rocco’s eyes to Jean’s tearful amazement of the dance of two men. Although it may already sound cliché, but it’s as if takes its forms in the purely original dance numbers, the stunning soundtracks, among others.

The Concepts of Creation & Departure

Remember Frankenstein? Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant scientist, due to his obsession with re-animation and life, created a monster, his namesake monster. Well in this case, Rocco is Victor Frankenstein, and replace abhorrence and disgust with sheer attachment, to his creation, which in this case, is his dance protégé, Paulo.

Or in simple terms, Rocco created Paulo, the unwitting friendship turned into an attachment, but, much like all attachments, one can veer away and get lost. If one part of the relationship departs, the other feels alone, fragile. But Jean, in her wisdom, wisely states that although we create, and these creations leave us, we have nothing else to do but to feel stronger; to feel that we only teach ourselves to love, to live, or to simply be free.

I digress, for this struck me the most, as we all make mental pictures, memories of our attachments. Although these attachments fail to live by our expectations of them, (our cognitive creations), we have nothing else to do but to feel understanding yet not immediately powerless.

The Dance of Two Left Feet

The movie voices out of drawing the curtains from conventions. It dares to ask the question of: WHAT IF two men danced together, instead of the typical man and woman pairing? Typical Western dances start out with the Man stepping forth his right foot. Now, the title subsumes the other, beginning the dance with the left foot.

It is implied, although not explicitly stated, that Rocco is in love with Paulo (emphasis on the IMPLIED part). There is not homo-eroticism present, only a medium so powerful that it transcends pornography.

Kudos to the magnificent plot, the flawless progression, the director, the music, the cinematography, the dance, and of course the actors.

A relatively cheap production YET already a stunningly beautiful Filipino Classic, if you have the time, go see this indie film…

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  1. […] “Kudos to the magnificent plot, the flawless progression, the director, the music, the cinematography, the dance, and of course the actors. A relatively cheap production YET already a stunningly beautiful Filipino Classic.” (Read full review) […]



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