Woman by the Window (1998)

I remember sitting in a sordid theater in the north by northwest somewhere in Isabela to be inexact watching a double feature, one featuring Rosanna Roces and one with the hot newcomer Klaudia Koronel, the title of which, I’m not going to reveal here. The first one is a Chito Rono film, a sexy noir that mixes Tsai Ming Lai, Scorpio Nights and Hitchcockian thriller.

The second one is a campy affair that only reminds me how huge people are when they are in the nude and on the big screen. In one scene, Klaudia Koronal went skinny dipping. Everything’s so big—and they’re even bigger on the big screen—she looked like a giant Amazonian—and the water, so pristine that you could see the waves and the swirling vortices glides by her nude figure.

Going back to Babae sa Bintana (Woman by the Window), according to Letterboxd, the synopsis of which goes like this: Abandoned by his wife, Mitch (Richard Gomez) finds respite from his depression by spying on beautiful new neighbor Jack (Rosanna Roces); next thing you know, the pair becomes intimately acquainted. But trouble lies ahead: It seems that Jack’s lover (John Estrada) has ties to Manila’s underworld, and Mitch soon finds himself in grave danger. That’s like 50-plus words, by the way. So, if you want to write longer… you know what to do.

So, Mitch was feeling depressed, kind of. And to drag him out of it, his friends tried to entertain him by having Efren Reyes, Jr. dress in drag and sing and dance for him. It didn’t work. Of course, it wouldn’t. Efren Reyes, Jr. is well-known as a ruthless baddie in action movies, he kills innocent people and if he needs to, he rapes anyone related to the hero (the hero’s sister, his girlfriend, wife, dentist, make-up artist, even the hero’s PA). Even if it isn’t in the script. All for the sake of being in character. If he was in Game of Thrones, I’m sure he’d be the one to kill Sean Bean’s character. And to have him in drag and sing and dance like an idiot, definitely a stroke of genius from director Chito Rono.

As I was saying, it didn’t work; tall dark and handsome Mitch was still depressed. And so they hired a prostitute, played by Janice Jurado, who then proceeded to seduce Mitch and shoved his Richard Gomez face into her mighty Twin Peaks. It still didn’t work. Goma wasn’t turned on, not even a bit. Despite his face being pressed and squeezed between two huge mountains like Bernardo Carpio.

Depressed and disappointed, Goma called for an emergency meeting with the producers, the screenwriters and direk. “Direk, wala na bang mas OK na ka-eksena d’yan? ‘Yung pwedeng pang-FAMAS.” Goma explained that there’s no way he’s going to get turned on by a fearsome thug in drag (Reyes) or an aging sexy star from the 80’s (Jurado). Nor were they going to get him out of depression.

Enter Rossana Roces. Fresh from the box office success of a string of movies she had recently starred in, the titles of which I’m too lazy to Google now (implying I haven’t seen them – not gonna lie, I really haven’t seen them, in the movies or on VCD). To cut the story short, Osang was in, and Goma had his hardest hard-on ever. It was like the Incredible Hulk’s coming out/“I’m always angry” scene from that movie The Avengers (not the 1998 movie with Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes, the 2012 one from Marvel).

In a not so subtle reference to Rear Window, Mitch (Gomez) spied on Jill—or was it Jack, whatever—and Jill caught him. Thus, they ended up in bed, together, because the screenplay said they should be. And what follows is montage of Jack and Jill’s affair and it was the most realistic relationship ever played on screen: it was all sex, all day, all night, and no talking. Or maybe I’m just remembering it wrong. Sorry, it has been two full decades already.

So they had sex all night long. They did it in bed, between the sheets, without the sheets, on the floor, on the kitchen floor. They did it naked, half naked, with the camera man watching and a handful of prod assistants standing around trying to focus on doing their job while at the same time can’t stop looking at two naked stars doing their best to act in a simulated sex scene that would make us believe they’re really doing it when in fact they’re actually not.

They even did it even when it’s raining and the water was pouring out from the holes on the roof because the carpenters won’t fix it because Chito Rono told them not to. It was raining so hard and they were fucking so hard that there’s even a small palanggana beside them to catch the falling rainwater even though it wasn’t really rainwater—it’s water from the fire truck rented by the producers.

After the sex comes violence. And this is where John Estrada forgets that Goma has been a Palibhasa Lalake mainstay (together with Joey Marquez) long before John was in show business. John probably said sorry to Goma before he gave him the nastiest bits of violence Goma ever tasted in his whole showbiz career but John had no other choice, he had to stay in character.

All these events, eventually, would inspire Goma, later in his life, to become our very own Vincent Van Gogh. He may not have survived by the movie’s end, but he went on with his life, became a town mayor and painted his obra maestra. And in case you’ve been wondering who was the inspiration for those gigantic paintings, NO, it wasn’t Lucy Torres. It was Rosanna Roces all along. Always has been.

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