Movie review: 'Adan' is a throwback to Pinoy ST films

Fred Hawson

Posted at Nov 21 2019 12:12 PM | Updated as of Nov 21 2019 12:25 PM

Rhen Escano and Cindy Miranda star in 'Adan'

Ellen Sta. Cruz (Rhen Escano) was a blossoming young lady at 16 years old, but her father Lucas (Bembol Roco, Jr.) kept her locked up in their remote cottage near their barren farm after they were abandoned by her mother Mara (Maui Taylor). Her only moments of happiness were those days when her best friend Marian (Cindy Miranda) who worked in town, came for her monthly visits. 

One fateful day marred with blood, Ellen escaped from her father's control, and fled off to live with Marian. In the sultry heat of the summer nights, the two women succumb to the temptations of the flesh between themselves. However, the trail of violence continued as ruthless loan shark Alan (Raffy Tanada) and a lusty policeman Abraham (Epy Quizon) crossed their paths, while paranoia and mistrust take over their relationship. 

"Adan" tells a story of deep friendship which turned into love, but here, it involved two women. This lesbian scenario is also not commonly tackled in Filipino movies. The most famous example should be "T-Bird at Ako" (1982) especially because it starred superstars Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. There were a number of indie films about lesbians like "Ned's Project" (2016), "Baka Bukas" (2016) and "Billie and Emma" (2018), but I was not able to watch any of them to compare whether they were as bold as the treatment here in "Adan."

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Nowadays we only see sensual dramatic films like this one in indie film festivals, but this one went for a mainstream release, like the ST films of the 1990s. However, recent sexy films (like "Just a Stranger," "Malamaya," "Belle Douleur," "The Annulment") were ironically it was their male partner who would bare more skin than the female lead. Here in "Adan," the two lead actresses generously displayed their bodies in tastefully photographed sensual scenes with a sort of nostalgic throwback feel, along with other ST film staples like the farm hut, the waterfalls, the mosquito net and the white chemise. 

With her dewy eyes and willowy body, 21-year old Rhen Escano still had the look of an innocent barrio nymphet of 16. On the other hand, the tall lissome Cindy Mercado still looked very much like the confident beauty queen that she was. The camera loved these two ladies, and they looked beautiful together. 

With no outlet to express herself, Escano's Ellen only had her eyes to reveal her repressed emotions from loneliness to suspicion. After experiencing one trauma after another, Miranda's Marian had eyes which turned from bright to glassy to reflect the abused condition of her person. 

From a story by Yam Laranas and screenplay co-written by Jonison Fontanos, violence was very much an integral part of this film as much as the sex. These murderous scenes were progressive in brutality and bloodiness, though admittedly they were rather contrived in execution. 

The final scene in the bus was the most unexpected shocker with over-the-top absurdist sensibilities, a la Quentin Tarantino. Co-writer and director Roman Perez, Jr. had a bold vision and went for it full-on, willing to trigger extreme audience reactions, especially with his polarizing love-it-or-hate-it ending. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."