If you have even been to a clothes store that has the words Fashion! Or Exclusive! written in the windows then it can be pretty much guaranteed that what was inside was neither fashionable nor exclusive. So there is some trepidation in approaching a film that titles itself as 2 cool 2 be 4gotten. Thankfully this dispassionately paced dark coming of age tale is just, just cool enough.
Felix (KhalilRamos) is a ‘top notcher’ at his Philippine school. Or so he proclaims himself in the arrogant ongoing narration of his life that plays in his head. As one of the highest performing students he is on the cusp of gaining a scholarship abroad that could save him and his family from the poverty they were left in after a volcano swept away his childhood home. Friendless and awkward at school it seems like the only opportunity that is likely to come his way.
Half American Magnus and Maxim, ‘the shiny shimmering Snyder brothers, the genetic miracle of interracial copulation’ arrive at Felix’s school after being expelled from their previous one. Immediately nicknamed the Backstreet Boys they ripple through the school as the new alpha males. Good looks don’t qualify them for good grades and they both home in on Felix to help them. Magnus (Ethan Salvador) offers to pay him as a tutor, while Maxim (Jameson Blake) threatens to out him as gay.
Felix develops a relationship with both of them. Adoration with Magnus and subservience with Maxim. As he does he realizes they are in as precarious a position as him. Their mother (Ana Capri) is a cast aside hooker and their father will never return from the USA to claim them. Unless their mother dies before they come of age. They are both desperate to leave the country so the question is thrown out there by Maxim, what if she dies?
The understated pace is at odds with the dark theme of parricide but it does convey the calculating machinations of Maxim. He is laying traps while Felix is caught up in his love for Magnus and Magnus is overjoyed to find his first real friendship in Felix. Maxim is coldly assessing what buttons he needs to press and with whom to bring about his corrupt goals.
Some flaws in the order of the story mean Maxim’s evil intent is introduced with insufficient build up but overall Petersen Vargas’s tale has a hypnotic and realistic inevitability. It stays just close enough to teen coming of age repressed love story to avoid devolving into Oedipus meets American Psycho.
Review by ANDREW HEBDEN
Queerguru Contributing Editor ANDREW HEBDEN is a MEDIA & CULTURAL STUDIES graduate spending his career between London, Beijing and NYC as an expert in media and social trends. As part of the expanding minimalist FIRE movement he recently returned to the UK and lives in Soho. He devotes as much time as possible to the movies, theatre and the gym. His favorite thing is to try something (anything) new every day.