Film

Film

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Like the upcoming Argentine art-house buzz flick The Holy Girl, this more melodramatic Filipino coming-of-ager concerns the budding sexuality of a young girl in a devoutly Catholic culture. We follow young Manila hottie Malen (Angelica Panganiban), who after consorting with the equally hot neighborhood rogue Mike (Jericho Rosales) and worrying her prayer-woman mother literally to death glumly takes over the family business as a “fake saint.” The practice of paying for prayers is nicely contrasted with Mike’s gigolo job, and if periodic daydreams of white light and angel choirs are schmaltzy, other touches transcend, like shots of the city’s thronging Black Nazarene procession, and the ominous reveal of Mike’s full-back cobra tattoo as he slithers onto Malen. A dogmatic ending suggests a just God, but it’s left appreciably ambiguous whether the healing that Malen’s prayers deliver is coincidence or evidence of a divine current.