Becky and Badette

European  Premiere | In Competition

 

Guest star:
Jun Robles LANA, director 
Perci INTALAN, producer 
Eugene DOMINGO, actress

 

Opening with a pastel-colored nod to Ishmael Bernal’s 1984 masterpiece Working Girls, Jun Robles Lana’s Becky and Badette establishes itself as fundamentally a comedy about, well, working girls. Tired of their low-wage job cleaning a gleaming office building, naturally blonde besties Becky (Domingo) and Badette (Pokwang) take their big dreams to an even bigger stage: show business. After getting humiliated at a high school reunion, Becky, who’s had enough of feeling small and powerless, harnesses her love of Vilma Santos films and decides to go on a drunken monologue onstage and ends up with Badette and her confessing that they have been a couple all along.

Their declaration of (fake) love goes viral. The two have been branded as the two new queer icons, so much so that the morning after, still hungover, Becky gets an offer from a queer music producer for an album (actual queer musician Ice Seguerra) and Badette gets an offer from a big-time director (actual director Sigrid Andrea Bernardo) to star as an “authentic” lesbian in a fantasy television series. Not only that, their mothers were so moved by their video that they decided to come out and no longer hide their love in secret. Now, Becky and Badette have two choices: start the careers they’ve dreamed of, yet built on a lie, or come out to the public and say that the video clip was all a drunken mistake. Of course, they choose the former.

On the surface, the film touches on the Filipino phenomenon of on-screen “love teams.” Love teams continue to be the bread and butter of the local entertainment industry, powering films, TV shows, and even advertisements. Becky and Badette gives this heterosexually dominated space a queer twist. In the film’s world Badette, the two are billed as “lesbian majesties,” get a portmanteau of their own (BB), and have numerous fan clubs following their life as a couple on and off-screen. But once their childhood crush Pepe Feniz (a not-too-subtle combination of “penis” and “pepe” a Filipino slang for the female genitalia) comes out to break this queer facade, it becomes open season.

Becky and Badette follows Lana’s long line of queer-focused films (such as The Two Mrs.

Reyeses
, Die Beautiful, Big Night!, and The Panti Sisters) but what makes it so unique is having two comedy icons portray a lesbian power couple. It is undeniable that Domingo and Pokwang are the beating heart of the film, playing off their lines with so much delight, while careful not to play Becky and Badette as caricatures. The scenario itself is absurd after all: the Filipino public accepting a lesbian on-screen couple? Hilarious! Lana knows this and subtly tugs at the stereotypes and microaggressions that lesbians face, one scene of which involves Badette herself.

The fact that two lesbian characters headline Becky and Badette is already so refreshing in a long line of Filipino queer films that are mostly focused on male homosexual lives.

But more importantly, Lana asks us to confront queerbaiting and cancel culture from the point of view of two “queer” working girls. As the film’s layers peel from one absurd scenario to another, Lana envisions a reckoning that only comes from our ability (or disability) to face our own prejudices.

Don Jaucian
Film director: Jun Robles LANA
Year: 2023
Running time: 114'
Country: The Philippines
01/05 - 4:50 PM
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
01-05-2024 16:50 01-05-2024 18:44Europe/Rome Becky and Badette Far East Film Festival Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da UdineCEC Udine cec@cecudine.org
Online in Italy until the end of the Festival

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