Lia (Bea Alonzo) is a simple schoolteacher who falls in love with her high school classmate Philip (Paulo Avelino), son of the outgoing mayor of Cebu. The high profile of her fiancé, who is being groomed as his father’s successor, thrusts her into the limelight. In the midst of all the madness, she again meets her ex Wado, who serves as the lead architect for Philip’s building project. And thus the tug of war for her heart begins.
It’s initially set up as a conventional love triangle between flames old and new, but it’s actually a lot more complex than that, thanks to one central element that is kept secret in the entire promo of the film: Philip’s bisexuality.
Prior to meeting Lia, Philip sort of lived a very carefree, liberated life. While he is loyal and faithful to a fault to his fiancé, he is haunted and judged by his past. He is ashamed of himself and worried about how the scandal will taint his reputation and smear his campaign. Wado uses this knowledge to blackmail Philip into doing his own bidding in the hopes of wooing Lia back.
Lia eventually learns of Philip’s secret and is mortified herself. While she says it’s his deception – not his sexuality – that enraged her, it doesn’t feel completely sincere. After all, she has a bad history with queer men, with her father leaving her behind when he came out. She is dead-set in her belief that he ruined her life, and the thought of Philip being the “same” as him devastates her.
After dealing with her personal demons, she obviously chooses Philip. The journey toward that conclusion leaves a sour taste in the mouth, what with setting up absurd and contrived scenes that trivialize Philip’s sexual orientation (the shower scene, anyone?). However, we can consider it a win for queer representation in the end, where what mattered are Lia and Philip’s true feelings for each other regardless of one’s history or sexuality.
A stellar cast provides credence to the whole affair. Bea Alonzo and Paulo Avelino, who get paired up again following their 2014 teleserye Sana Bukas Pa Ang Kahapon, get to exercise their acting chops with much aplomb. It won’t be surprising for either of them to get nominated for year-end awards. It’s good to see Derek Ramsey back in Star Cinema and being helmed by the director that got him famous, but he takes on a more supportive role here.
All in all, Kasal isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s definitely a landmark film that will pave the way for the types of queer storylines to come in mainstream fare.
Image source: Page One