Bingoleras (Ron Bryant, 2013)
Bryant confuses. His material is clearly absurd, with characters ending up in situations with just a sliver of logical explanation. However, there is restraint in the presentation. There is an overabundance of good taste, from how the entire film is shot and lighted, the decisions in music, to the obvious inability to push the envelope in depicting sexual urges. A dull failed comedy is bearable. At most, it is just a waste of time. However, a failed comedy borne out of the lack of any sensitivity is unforgiveable. It purports to be progressive with its misguided stabs at norms and conventions. Sadly, absent a believable perspective or intent, the film overindulges in its rabid caricatures, making it seem that the entire point of its blunt slapstick is shallow hilarity.
Bryant populates Bingoleras with women of token motivations. Dang (Max Eigenmann), the mastermind of the sham bingo games, simply wants to be reunited with her daughter in the United States, forcing her to earn money through unscrupulous means. Mimi, her assistant whose past in the novitiate makes her a semi-effective fake nun, dreams of love and a more comfortable future. Jean is stuck in a loveless marriage, satisfied only by Rona (Liza Dino), a cop. Bonay (Hazel Orencio) and Pinang (Mercedes Cabral) are single mothers who have been toughened by their sorry lots in life. They also loathe each other.
Instead of granting the characters with some semblance of dignity or humanity, Bryant places them in unrealistic situations, turning them into mere butts of his haphazard jokes. There is simply no room for sensitivity, no space for characterization. In the end, the characters are only memorable because of the misfortunate stereotype they represent or because of the outrageous sketch they were part of. What little connection between the characters and the rest of humanity is brought by the actresses who play them with an excitement that is woefully missing from the rest of the picture.
It is really unfortunate. The very fact that Bingoleras tackles the sudden connections between diversely motivated women gives it an opportunity to be more scathing or informative in its exploration of various women’s issues. In the hands of Bryant, everything seems false, everything seems to be a convenient attempt to portray women as strong and independent, but still within the perspective of a dominant male. Thus, the film’s supposedly progressive commentaries are all elementary, lacking any refreshing argument in feminist discourse. At this point, what Bingoleras offers are just the six odd women to laugh at, and nothing else.
(Cross-published in Twitch.)