Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (2011)

Some films just take you by surprise. For me, most recently, it was Alvin Yapan’s entry to the 2011 Cinemalaya Film Festival, Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa. I simply did not expect the impact. I knew that Alvin Yapan was brilliant, but the fineness of his work still astounded me, especially the opening scenes. Actually, it was my first time to watch a full-length Vim Yapan production. It’s embarrassing to admit—and I haven’t quite forgiven myself for this—but I still haven’t seen Ang Panggagahasa kay Fe. It’s a regret I wish to remedy.

Set in contemporary Manila, Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa interweaves the lives of three characters. Marlon (Paulo Avelino) and Dennis (Rocco Nacino) are university students taking a poetry class under Karen (Jean Garcia). Stalking her, Marlon discovers that she teaches dance by night, and that his classmate Dennis works as her assistant. Determined to impress her, Marlon enrolls in the dance class and hires Dennis as a tutor, unaware of the consequences this arrangement will have for all three of them.

There’s a lot to praise in this movie, but what really struck me was the sheer beauty of the setup: the combination of poetry, music, and dance on film. These montages took my breath away. The actors do not disappoint either. Jean Garcia gives a remarkable performance as the mysterious Karen. One scene showed her deftly transitioning emotions while watching Dennis and Marlon dance together. But although she plays a pivotal role in the story’s progression, very little is revealed about Karen. We only get glimpses, near-insights into her character—no more.

An “almost-orgasm,” Gian calls the film, and for good reason. There is a clear intent to bring viewers toward that crucial almost, only to end there. As in Closer, a lot of flirtation occurs here, but instead of dialogue, Ang Sayaw uses cinematography to beguile its viewers. The camerawork reveals a deliberate use of mirrors and stairways in a style reminiscent of Wong Kar-wai. I found the slow-motion scenes too melodramatic, but regardless, the entire experience was still stunning, dizzying, heart-wrenching. Like Ace, I couldn’t get over the film immediately, and I didn’t want to. It was just like how I had felt after reading Never Let Me Go.

Because it made me cry, here is Joi Barrios’ poem “Paglisan” in full, as used in the film:

Sinasalat ko ang bawat bahagi
Ng aking katawan.
Walang labis, walang kulang.

Sinasalat ko bawat bahagi
Ng aking katawan.
Nunal sa balikat,
Hungkag na tiyan.
May tadyang ka bang hinugot
Nang lumisan?

Sinasalat ko bawat bahagi
Ng aking katawan.
Sa kaloob-looban,
Sa kasuluk-sulukan,
Nais kong mabatid
Ang lahat ng iyong
Tinangay at iniwan.
Nais kong malaman,
Kung buong-buo pa rin ako
sa iyong paglisan.

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2 thoughts on “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (2011)

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