Temptation Island


 

By Jon Verzosa

I have to say that I used the phrase “Bitch! Double bitch!” for two days after I saw the new Chris Martinez movie, Joey Gosiengfiao’s Temptation Island.

It is a dark comedy. It is a dark campy comedy and when camp hits the silver screen, expect to be ravaged by its beautiful sarcasm.  This held true the moment Lovi Poe came out well-done and whacked the lenses by posing gawkily, almost like a gay man, and played her ‘over-actingness’ as the rich and bitchy Serafina.  That pool scene was an immediate classic and you wouldn’t know that this movie is, in fact, a Joey Gosiengfiao remake cleverly brought back to life by Chris Martinez who recently gave us 100 and Here Comes the Bride and the in the offing Babae sa Septic Tank at Cinemalaya.
I have to admit, I did not watch the 1980 original classic by Gosiengfiao, so when I diagrammed this review, I knew that I’d be free from comparing both films and would stick to my guns on the current one with the pedantic Virginia P (Heart Evangelista) who essays her role well as the colegiala shoved into the limelight of a beauty tilt; the bitchy Serafina (Lovi Poe) who has geared fine acting triple time; the social-climbing Pura K (Solenn Heussaff), to non-stop swivelling Cristina G (Marian Rivera) as the streetwise contestant whose bungangera appeal toned well in its crop and Nympha (Rufa Mae Quinto) as Serafina’s alalay, leaving us all perplexed and laughing with this bevy of daft goddesses. Of course there is John ‘Sweet’ Lapuz as Joshua Gosiengfiao, the scoundrel bading who was eaten in the end, but not before he bestowed several of the best titters. And the boys; Aljur Abrenica (who still can’t act and was an obvious miscast), Mikael Daez (who can liberate lines and can be really funny although I was half-hoping that Abrenica’s role should have been given to him because he is more articulate and is capable of reprising Alfie Anido’scoňo character far better than lifeless Abrenica) and the surprisingly earthly Tom Rodriguez.  Original 80s cast Deborah Sun and Azenith Briones played comic support to the new breed.

 

Temptation Island is a remake of an 80s cult hit

 
I have to thank my lucky stars that I was with co-Pinoy Pop Biz columnist Sofia Maria Reyes who provided me with the ins and outs of the 80s Temptation Island, who recited all the original lines in the movie and has the intelligent discernment for outrageous milieu and can laugh through it with optimism.  That night, at South Mall, inside the movie theatre, SMR’s bearing fascinatingly drew a steady feel towards the screening of the movie and thwarted my deceptive outlook towards blockbuster movies to simply have the campiest fun.  Hence, Temptation Island does not disappoint in sheer bakya fun because quite bitchfully, it was sheer entertainment.

The plot is stylish cheese and spun around its over-the-top girls bagging the crown of Miss Manila Sunshine, a modelling pageant organized by (original 1980 cast) Azenith Briones and joined in by our fabulous four.  On a yacht trip to nowhere, they were shipwrecked to a deserted island and thus challenged everyone in a (mis)adventure of survival and I-am-the-bitchiest-of-them-all epic that hypothesized unforgettable scenes such as the dancing Afro-girl whose drink she still carried to her stretcher ever after she was almost burned alive from an explosion, “fish-net” stockings where everyone had to use to catch fish (and even Rufa Mae Quinto wore one – such a sosyal yaya that she was), ice cream and chicken hallucination (Digo Ricio’s production design was telepathic), the Habang May Buhay chorale as everyone ate Joshua’s BBQ’d carcass and Serafina’s (Lovi Poe) fights and banters with the girls.

The scene-stealing portrayal of Serafina L. by Lovi Poe was a bolt from the blue.  A product of indie films, Lovi exudes uncontaminated 80s sexpot cheesiness that’s both durable and character-filled.  It was so easy loving her antics from her amplified voice modulations to her facial expressions and more solidly, to her contrived sexual appeal which we all found so tricky because she is, in fact, very sexy but has continually acted it out for diaphanous provocation. And then put in Rufa Mae Quinto’s alternative portrayal of Nympha, the vague but big-hearted yaya, and you have a comedic tandem that is so much better than a typical love team.  I also have to speak well of Solenn Heusaff who acted so naturally and whose accent did not get in the way of her unpretentious rendering of the social-climbing Pura K.

 

Temptation Island stars Marian Rivera, Heart Evangelista, Lovi Poe, Solenn Heusaff and Rufa Mae Quinto

 
As stated by my friend SMR, the original lines are vintage cheese thus the movie became a cult hit in the 80s and true enough, its closing credits have the added juxtaposing footage from the remake with counterparts from the original which was an ending so original that we had to stay on even after the names were already fading from the screen.

By and large, the upshot of the movie is not unlike a time warp at all.  I myself have only seen footages of the original and I guess, Chris Martinez executed this very well and as another reviewer said so of his exertion, quote, this could well be the last temptation of Joey Gosiengfiao to go on living if vicariously in lines and acting so awful they outlasted oblivion itself, unquote.

So, if you think that every Pinoy film that’s entertaining is dim-witted, so be it.  Our lives can be eaten alive by stress’ very cruel mouth every day.  Enough of that puh-leezzz! I say, leave your brain at the door, sit back and be your mostbaduy Pinoy self, laugh your bitchiest and watch Temptation Island.  You might not know what you have missed, particularly Lovi Poe and the girls’ faithful bitching, or perhaps, your life being spared from all that stress.

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