MOVIE REVIEW: Deadma Walking (2017)

Led by the powerhouse performances of Joross Gamboa and Edgar Allan Guzman, Deadma Walking (Julius Alfonso, 2017) is a campy feast of a well-arched gag-laughter/tear-jerker that embraces its B-movie elements, producing a very original comedy classic.

Based on the 2016 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature winning screenplay, and hemmed by the directorial debut of Julius Alfonso, Deadma Walking follows the story of John (Joross Gamboa) who, upon learning his stage 4 diagnosis of cancer and with only 1-2 years to live, decides to fake his own death to bear witness to what his friends and family have to say about and give to him, leading to an overwhelming journey of love, appreciation and acceptance. With the help of his BFF for life, Mark (EA Guzman), the film follows the meticulously planned staging of John’s death, wake and funeral — all the drama, mischief, laughter and unexpected twists in between.

When a film is a witty reminder of Tim Robbins’ Dead Man Walking (1995) starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, you know you’re in for a cognizant laughing stock that would never feel cheap. And it didn’t. The greatest thing about Julius Alfonso’s Deadma Walking is, despite its spoof-elated, paradoxical impression, it never felt cheap. The depth of the film, down to its last, tiniest detail is so well thought out, that there wasn’t a missed opportunity for the film to deliver its intentions of an imitation-of-life approach. The film embraces its exaggerations and over-the-top antics led by its two protagonists who are as colorful as the rainbow amidst a grief-centric premise as heavy as the rain.

Deadma Walking is a gay film that didn’t use the “gay” element as a mere accessory; rather, it used it as its vehicle for the film to propel its narrative. Unlike other LGBT films whose queer element only reflects on its aesthetics (as if changing the sexuality of the movie’s characters would not make a single difference to the story), Deadma Walking embraces its queerness as it utilizes its gay elements to a more effective, sparkling story. It’s funny but never laughable; it’s touching but never cheesy. It’s a social commentary on how a friendship between two queer (and good-looking) men can blossom as a life-long, romance-free partnership without the malice of societal standardization, while tackling the human flaws it entails, including the hues of platonic love, trust and betrayal.

One of the highlights of the film is its visceral direction by Julius Alfonso. Every scene is a reflection of the director’s assertion and the screenplay’s intellect. The sharp wits and unabashed campiness of Cabahug’s script was delivered intellectually by Alfonso on screen. Let’s face it: this type of film could easily go trashy, but the production of gag laughs and heavy drama that the movie juggles is very much well-studied, and eventually well-delivered — thanks, in huge part, to the cinematic cleverness of its director.

EA Guzman is a firecracker. He is a complete breakthrough, almost as if the film was intentionally made to show off his brilliant comedic versatility and dramatic chops. A scene stealer, he manages to give a luminous performance in a film about death and grief, and it never felt condescending or strange to the theme. Joross Gamboa gave a generous performance of a meek, quieter role opposite to Guzman’s loudness, creating a very well-balanced dynamic between the two. Playing a subtler, more laid-back role without being underwhelming is a difficult one to do, and Gamboa nailed it to the tee. Their characters are distinguishable, layered, human and real, despite the material’s theatrical, over-the-top shebang. Dimples Romana’s gift for drama was smartly utilized for the film’s beautiful arch on its more serious, more somber undertone. Her character created a perfect foil to the film’s dual tone of comedy and drama, and she single-handedly created that shift that never felt awkward or forced.

As one of the only two MMFF 2017 entries to be Graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board, Deadma Walking is indeed a pleasant surprise, and it goes way deeper than the impression it makes at the onset. A powerhouse combination of talented actors, sharp screenplay and intelligent direction, the film is everything you could ask for: a good entertainment, and an even better filmmaking.

4.75 out of 5 stars

WINNERS: Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) 2017

Here is the complete list of winners of the 43rd Metro Manila Film Festival as announced December 27, Wednesday night at Kia Theater in Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Joanna Ampil, ANG LARAWAN
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Derek Ramsay, ALL OF YOU
1st Best Picture: ANG LARAWAN
2nd Best Picture: SIARGAO
3rd Best Picture: ALL OF YOU
Special Jury Prize: Coco Martin
Posthumous Special Jury Prize: National Artist Nick Joaquin, ANG LARAWAN
People’s Choice Award (Full-Length Film): THE REVENGER SQUAD

Best Supporting Actress: Jasmine Curtis-Smith, SIARGAO
Best Supporting Actor: Edgar Allan Guzman, DEADMA WALKING

Best Child Performer: Baste, MEANT TO BEH

Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Cultural Award: ANG LARAWAN
Best Director: Paul Soriano, SIARGAO
Best Screenplay: ALL OF YOU
Fernando Poe Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence: ANG PANDAY
Special Award of Recognition: National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera

Male Celebrity of the Night: Derek Ramsay
Female Celebrity of the Night:  Erich Gonzales

Best Cinematography: Odyssey Flores, SIARGAO
Best Editing: Mark Victor, SIARGAO
Best Production Design: ANG LARAWAN
Best in Visual Effects: ANG PANDAY

Best Original Theme Song: ‘Alon’ by Hale, SIARGAO
Best Musical Score: Ryan Cayabyab, ANG LARAWAN
Best Sound: SIARGAO

Children’s Choice Award: ANG PANDAY

People’s Choice Award (Short Film): NOEL

WATCH: All trailers for 8 entries of Metro Manila Film Festival 2017

The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) executive committee has officially announced the last four films to complete the 8 entries to the 2017 edition. The announcement was done this afternoon at Club Filipino in San Juan.

The four entries selected from finished films are the following:

Deadma Walking

from T-Rex Entertainment, directed by Julius Alfonso, and starring Joross Gamboa and Edgar Allan-Guzman


from TEN17P Productions, directed by Paul Soriano and starring Jericho Rosales and Erich Gonzales

Haunted Forest

from Regal Entertainment, directed by Ian Loreños and starring Jane Oineza

Ang Larawan

from Culturtrain Musicat Productions, directed by Loy Arcenas and starring Rachel Alejandro and Joanna Ampil

The other four entries to be selected were announced back in July. The first four movies chosen based on script submissions are the following:

Ang Panday

from CCM Creative Productions Inc., directed by and starring Coco Martin

All of You

from Quantum and MJM Productions, directed by Dan Villegas, and starring Jennylyn Mercado and Derek Ramsay

Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad

from Star Cinema and Viva Films, directed by Joyce Bernal, and starring Vice Ganda, Daniel Padilla, and Pia Wurtzbach

Meant to Beh

from Octo Arts Films, directed by Chris Martinez, and starring Vic Sotto and Dawn Zulueta


The MMFF 2017 short film entries to be attached respectively to each of the eight full-length features are the following:

  • Anino
  • Anong Nangyari Kay Nicanor Dante?
  • Black Market
  • Crab Mentality
  • Gunita
  • Isang Gabi (One Night)
  • Kinalimutan Natin ang mga Bata
  • Noel

The selection of entries were based on “both artistic excellence and audience appeal that can equate to more benefits to its target industry beneficiaries,” according to the MMFF execom.

The 43rd edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival starts Christmas day, December 25.

MMFF 2017 reveals four submitted-script finalists

The 42nd edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) is up to new changes with the selection divided into two categories: 4 script submissions and 4 finished films, adding up to a total of 8 official entries to be screened at the festival starting December 25.

Here are the first four official entries selected from the 26 scripts submitted this year.

  • ANG PANDAY by Rodel Nacianceno
    Lead: Coco Martin
  • ALMOST IS NOT ENOUGH by Dan Villegas
    Lead: Jennylyn Mercado & Jericho Rosales
  • THE REVENGERS by Joyce Bernal
    Lead: Vica Ganda, Daniel Padilla & Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach
  • LOVE TRAPS #FamilyGoals by Antonio Reyes
    Lead: Vic Sotto & Dawn Zulueta

The criteria in choosing these titles were as follows:

40% artistic excellence
40% commercial appeal
10% promotion of Filipino cultural and historical values
10% global appeal

The remaining 4 slots will be given to selected finished films. Announcement is on November 17.

Interested filmmakers are still encourafed to submit duly accomplished application forms and complete requirements to the MMFF Secretariat until October 2 for early birds, and until October 30 for the regular submission.

For the short film category, 8 short films will be announced on September 29. Deadline of submission is on September 1.