By By Pablo A. Tariman
BETWEEN LOVING AND LUSTING
posted 26-Sep-2019  ·  
1,115 views  ·   0 comments  ·  
Sue Ramirez and RK Bagatsing in Cuddle Weather. A surprise teacher-pupil relationship in the realm of the flesh.

My first candidate for best actress in the ongoing Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino is Sue Ramirez who stars in Cuddle Weather written and directed by Rod Marmol.

The story is obviously for mature audiences as the lead characters (Adela Johnson played by Sue Ramirez) and Ram portrayed by RK Bagatsing) give us a candid portrait of sex workers trying to survive in a job that they don’t exactly relish.

Of the two, the character of Ramirez is the seasoned one knowing as she does all the tricks to titillate the flesh. But being a veteran in the trade, she dictates her price and she chooses her clients and the venue. She has gone beyond her old turf as street-hawker and true enough, she has given her trade a touch of ‘class” by looking and smelling respectable.

By chance, she meets a newcomer in the trade who has the body but almost always completely innocent about the trade. He sold his body once for a measly one thousand and when Johnson learned about this, she chuckled at the extent to which this provincial bumpkin can be exploited and not knowing how to make the most of it.

The two strike it off quite easily with Johnson agreeing to teach the neophyte Ram the basic tools of the flesh trade. He is the willing pupil and she is the determined teacher. Later, she plays the role of an agent getting twenty per cent from his earnings. To introduce him to prospective clients, she videos him showing her physical asset and games, and does the titillating poses.

The veteran teacher and the willing pupil soon reach a stage where the former already wants to quit the trade (she has earned enough) and confides her yearning to start all over.

True enough, the lusting lessons soon evolve into signs of loving.

To be fair, Ramirez nailed the part of the sex worker with such intensity you can see the human being coming to terms with the hopelessness of her trade.

Bagatsing provides the much-needed contrast. The neophyte that he is to city life, he got duped by a recruiter and can’t tell the truth to his kins. He gives relatives the illusion that he has boarded ship and will soon be earning good money.

Discovering that he can actually use his body to earn, he absorbed the tips of his mentor and soon became the recipient of the complete perks of the flesh trade.

But as they say, the way to the top is a struggle but once on top, you realize it can get lonely up there.

Adela Johnson realizes this as he reflects on his earnings and the love that got away. She got so good at his trade she wanted her real name erased legally and for good. She tells her pupil pointing at the tall buildings in the city, “There isn’t any room in those buildings that I didn’t use to please my clients.”

Apart from the big revelation of Ramirez as an actress, there is something to be said about the writer-director who has the unifying vision to make something beyond just being satisfactory.

He knows his story inside and out. He knows just what kind of characters should liven it up. And to make everything credible, he knows the ins and outs of the trade. 

On top of this, he succeeded in depicting a sensitive subject with rare candor but without losing that sense of humor inherent in the well-fleshed out screenplay.

Looking at his new film output, Marmol is the new director to watch.

But the portrayal of Ramirez as Adela Johnson is the high point of this film. One liked the character's sense of acceptance of her fate. But in the end, it is her firm resolve for self-renewal that gives her an ounce of moral courage. Throwing hard-earned cash over the window, the character of Ramirez succeeds in wrapping up a beautiful scene of self-redemption.

Cuddle Weather is a gem of a film and my first candidate for Best Picture.

Released by Regal Films, it opened September 13 in cinemas as one of the entries in the coming Pista Ng Pelikulang Pilipino.


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