‘Adan’ review: Male gaze

Roman Perez, Jr.’s Adan presents itself as a story that needs to be told, parading the burgeoning romance of its two female protagonists as its contribution to the collection of films about queer representation. Marketing it as such is tempting as there is a glaring lack of lesbian films. However, the claim of film to be intended to be part of a noble and current discussion seems problematic.

But before going there, let’s start with the good. 

Elegantly shot

The film is exquisitely shot.

Lensed with a particular sensitivity towards the fact that the story marries the seductive mysteries of sexual awakening with eventual blood and violence by Albert Banzon, the film is bursting with mood and atmosphere. Each frame is never without a temperament, whether it is drenched with the stench-filled sweat of provincial summers or suffocating within the restrictions of cramped living spaces. The film is always interesting to peer at. The film’s a persistent seducer.

The performances of the leads aren’t just daring. They are also apt and persuasive.

Rhen Escano plays a provincial lass whose coming to terms with her womanhood is complicated by her desire to move to the city. She’s a mystifying presence, and her ability to blur the lines of the age of her consent make her truly enticing. Paired with Cindy Miranda, who evolves from being the older sister she never had to a lover, Escano completes her transformation from being that impossible fruit of temptation to an achievable fantasy.

BARRIO LASS. Rhen Escau00f1o plays a young woman who dreams of big things but is prevented by her father.

Nothing more than erotica

All the film’s elements suggest its intent to provoke the imagination, to render elegant the sinful pleasures of ogling over private lives, of witnessing a woman go through the motions of maturity and submit herself to the delights of what is perceived to be forbidden love.

There lies the problem.

Adan is erotica that caters to men. It can never aspire to be anything more dignified than that. In fact, everything about it exposes its primal urges. Its very title alludes to the biblical creation story that has a man fall from grace because of the supposed proclivity of women to be tempted. The film has men dying because of women. The women it portrays are also suffering because of their being enraptured by fellow women. 

The film’s discourse centers on the intrinsic fault of females. 

Its gaze turns its characters into sirens meant for gawking. It spices them with thrills and dangers for the fullest effect, making them objects of desire that are worth the risks of mortality.

GETTING CLOSE. Rhen and Cindy's characters explore more than just being close to each other.

Lust-fueled

Adan is lust-fueled. 

It is poised and paced too artfully. However, there is just no denying that its prurient goals outweigh its shallow bid for integrity. – Rappler.com

 

Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.

Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.