The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros

"Very Good"

The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros Review


The teeming slums of Manila are one part delightful and one part dark in The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, a fascinating slice of third-world life that focuses on a family of petty thieves, including one very unusual brother.

Twelve-year-old Maximo (Nathan Lopez), Maxi for short, isn't your typical pre-teen Filipino. Highly effeminate and clearly gay, albeit in a pre-teen way, he swishes through the neighborhood in girls' shirts and garishly patterned shorts while he adjusts the barrettes in his hair.

Amazingly enough, his grotty neighborhood, where mountains of garbage soak in stagnant ponds, is a paragon of tolerance. Everyone loves Maxi, and he even has a gaggle of equally gay friends who spend afternoons staging elaborate pretend beauty contests. At home in their two-room apartment, his widowed father Paco (Soliman Cruz), a man who sells stolen cell phones for a living, and his two older brothers, Bogs (Ping Medina) and Paco Boy (Neil Ryan Sese), are highly protective of him. If anyone hassles Maxi, they exact swift and violent revenge. Maxi is the woman of the house, the person responsible for cooking and cleaning. Instead of attending school, he spend a lot of time watching DVDs down at the local rental shop and aspires to work at such a shop when he's older, "so that I can watch movies all the time."

The delicate balance of the family's precarious lifestyle starts to tip when the new plainclothes cop on the beat, the young and dashing Victor (J.R. Valentin), stops by to do some investigating, and Maxi starts crushing on him hard. Finding any excuse to hang out with Victor and even cooking lunches for him, Maxi starts to wonder if there's more to life than the streets of the slums and if he could ever have a life with someone like Victor. For his part, Victor finds Maxi amusing but is well aware that he should limit the amount of time he spends with a young boy.

When Victor's next murder investigation finds its way to the door of Maxi's house, Maxi's loyalties are painfully divided. Should he lie for his family or be honest with Victor? Which is the best route to a better life? His ultimate decision shatters both his family and his relationship with Victor, teaching him some very tough lessons about life.

Veering from adorable and light to bleak and tragic, Maximo Oliveros is all over the emotional map, but in a realistic way, sort of like life itself. The most interesting part of the movie is Lopez's Maxi, a kid who should be screwed up but instead is totally comfortable in his own skin. Even when the movie is at its most melodramatic, Lopez keeps his performance in check, making this most unreal kid seem very real indeed.

Aka Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros.

Like Sixteen Candles, but with more Spam.



The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 4th April 2007

Distributed by: Unico Entertainment

Production compaines: TLA Releasing, Cinemalaya Foundation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Auraeus Solito

Producer: Raymond Lee

Starring: Nathan Lopez as Maximo Oliveros, Soliman Cruz as Paco Oliveros, Neil Ryan Sese as Boy Oliveros, Ping Medina as Bogs Oliveros, JR Valentin as Victor Perez

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