Review: I Love You, Beksman (Queer East Film Festival)

Directed by Perci M. Intalan and written by Fatrick Tabada, Dali’s life, a make-up artist and fashion designer, is happy and gay, until he falls in love and surprise, he’s straight. Starring: Christian Bables, Keempee de Leon, Katya Santos, Iana Bernardez, Donna Cariaga, Joanna Marie Katanyag, John Leinard Ramos, Mico Aytona, Kyo Quijano and Miguel Almendras.

A film about a man who’s as flamboyant and outgoing as can be, obsessed with make-up and fashion, has grown up in an intensely queer community, and is now having to convince his friends and family he’s straight, is exactly what you think it’s going to be. With this story Fatrick Tabada dives into the idea of societal expectation and preconceptions, how personality traits and interests can quickly colour a person’s opinion when they don’t in fact define anyone’s sexuality. It then jumps headfirst into typical overcompensation when you have something to prove and are constantly being ignored. Wherein begins its key weakness because while it has a point, it feels like Dali (Christian Bables) would be uniquely aware of the harmful, toxic behaviour he was adapting.

It’s a complete three-sixty, going from being an open-minded, kind person to becoming the exact type of person who likely would have bullied him growing up. Bringing through too many unhealthy behaviours, particularly those of shame and resentment. It feels as though it could have pulled back a bit to represent Dali’s frustrations without heading down an ultra-stereotypical toxic masculinity road. Especially when beneath that is a simple, loving message about ignoring people’s attempts to make you fit inside any preconceived box, and just being yourself. It also has a knock on effect to the romantic vein of the story, it’s pushing the ‘real man’ type rhetoric so hard that it doesn’t leave an organic space for the connection between Dali and Angel (Iana Bernardez) to grow.

Outside of that, it builds a massively vibrant atmosphere and aesthetic. Perci M. Intalan’s direction, along with Mo Zee’s cinematography create a feel that’s somewhere between classic soap opera and teen romcom, with a hint of the 1980s thrown in. It’s packed with colour and energy, although it does have an over-fondness for slow-motion. The cast is a great ensemble, they all perfectly represent that fun, perky, silly styled energy. Keeping that playful feel going even in its more heated moments, interestingly there are only two characters who manage to keep a level head amongst all the drama. Joanna Marie Katanyag’s Marga and Dali’s mother played by Katya Santos feel logical and caring while the rest of the cast is a rollercoaster of emotion, it’s only a shame they don’t have a bigger part to play.

Christian Bables’ performance makes Dali’s frustrations relatable and he creates a solid chemistry alongside Iana Bernardez, although it feels as though we don’t get to learn that much about Angel as a person, rather than her family. Keempee de Leon for the most part plays out Dali’s gay father exactly as you’d expect but the two also have a couple of heartfelt moments. Especially when discussing the idea of hiding or passing, which was a nice inclusion.

I Love You, Beksman is like a feature long episode of a melodrama, it’s got that high energy and thirst for conflict. It’s entertaining and has a great message but at the same time, it is exactly what you think it’s going to be in both good ways and bad. Dali’s a fun character but seeing him hit those notes of toxic masculinity so hard isn’t convincing for someone who should know better. If you’re a fan of scandalous soap operas and teen style romance, then this is for you.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

Reviewed as part of Queer East Film Festival 2023

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