How ‘Deadma Walking’ Tried to Outsmart Death But Failed

When John (Joross Gamboa) learned that he is dying of cancer, he convinced his friend, Mark (Edgar Allan Guzman), to stage his fake death so that he can actually experience dying and the mourning from loved ones that comes with it. However, in their effort to outsmart death by preparing for it, the two eventually learned that death is inevitable and it is only a matter of time before death shows his wrath of inescapable demise.

In the entirety of the movie, death is romanticized through symbols and meanings that tries to defy what death actually means. However, no matter how much people romanticize death, it is something that will happen. Death may not only be on the physical sense, but in other forms as well, like friendship and love that need nurturing to keep them alive.

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The presence of Eugene Domingo in the movie provides the deepest symbolism in the movie. Each sequence Domingo is in resonates the state where the main characters dwell. Domingo, in the same manner that John and Mark tried to escape death, ended up seemingly safe. But death is just lurking around the corner to wait for the perfect timing to claim its victim.

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Truth be told, in the sea of clichés and campiness in the movie’s attempt to be funny, it is ultimately stimulating to have ideas wandering to create notions about the meaning of life and the absence of it that results to death — be it physical or not.

The dependable performance of Gamboa, and the sensitively outstanding acting prowess of de Guzman serve as the main backbone of the movie that does not really resolve what happens after the fake staging of John’s death.

Moreover, the rather selfish motive of the movie’s main plot does not really help in building an interest to empathize with John. On the other hand, Mark is the more relatable character as he was able to convey adequate buildup that makes it easier to be invested in him on his struggles from his family to his love life.

However, the most refreshing aspect of the film are the clichés that situate John and Mark in the most ordinary conflicts that people usually experience, especially in the romantic realm. In regular occasions, these conflicts would involve heterosexual characters and the homosexuals would be confined in the background as mere support or backdrop.

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In Deadma Walking, the gay characters are front and center in their control of their human agency. It is fresh to see gay characters confronting cinematic conflicts usually experienced by their heterosexual counterparts, especially in contemporary mainstream cinema where homosexuality is not something necessarily taken seriously.

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More so, the normalization of homosexuality in the story as if it is not a problem at all depicts what should be the situation of the queer sector in our society. Acceptance means not having to experience difficulties in expressing one’s identity. Juxtaposing the characters’ situation in the present landscape of queer acceptance in our society only shows that a lot has to be done before homosexuality becomes fully accepted. Movies are supposedly reflective of society. While the movie does not necessarily reflect reality in this aspect, the movie demands what must be the case in our setting.

In some respects, homosexuality, in Philippine society, is like death. It exists no matter how much it is kept a taboo. It is unavoidable no matter how much it is avoided. Coming face to face with homosexuality could even mean death for some in the most figurative sense. However, it is not something to be outsmarted, but rather embraced so that it can be accepted harmoniously without any restricting conditions.

The main characters could have been anyone, either male or female best friends. But the movie chose gay characters that are presented not as decorations or as a mechanisms to make the scenarios merely buoyant or colorful. They are chosen for a reason.

 


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John Mychal Feraren

Crazy about popular culture, pre-colonial, and Spanish-era studies. Fan of Christina Aguilera and Katrina Halili.