Storywise, I personally think that Ladyfish, of all the Sinag Maynila entries, has the lightest plot of them all. It has enough mixture of fun but somehow they failed to give enough justice to the message or moral lesson they are trying to deliver. Although it is very clear that the film is about the cruel reality and how people that belongs to the LGBT community struggles to be accepted by the general public. Ladyfish follows a story of Kaye (played by Mart Escudero) who finds it hard to find a job because of being a gay. Kaye usually dressed up as a lady and people often judged him because of his sexuality. As a result, Kaye remains unemployed but luckily he is skillful enough that he came up with a small organic soap business to support himself financially. Things have changed when his half-transexual bestfriend Bonn (played by Brenda Mage) went back to the Philippines with his adopted son Bjorn and asked for his help.
Bonn was left by his partner and now he must do everything to raise his kid alone and give him a better future. The story will revolve around Kaye and how he managed to find his self-worth and how he can lift himself up from this judgmental society. There were random stories inserted between the movie which are seemingly not really necessary (including those weird fetish) but the movie is generally enjoying. Thanks to the witty character portrayed by Brenda Mage who provided most of the comical relief in the movie.
Although it seems like unrealistic, Kaye came up with an interesting product, an organic soap that is surprisingly edible. I actually thought that the film will somehow emphasize on how Kaye managed to become a successful businessman after all the rejections he got from different employers just because of being a gay misfit yet the film took us somewhere else. If you are wondering where this “ladyfish” came from, there was actually a scene where Bonn and Kaye discussed about this special dish in a fancy restaurant. It was an expensive dish yet it looks so naïve. Bonn explained that this fish came through a lot of process before it was being served , a metaphor used to Kaye’s life that despite of having so much skills , people often judge him by how he looks and not by discovering what he really has to offer.
The film concluded on a pageant show. Kaye has been dreaming to join such pageant but never get enough courage because he has never been confident of himself. He has been rejected many times, he has been discriminated all his life and how he belittles himself is more like the result of this unfair judgment of his society. Bonn finally convinced Kaye to join the pageant and I love how he brilliantly answer the question thrown to him during the Q&A portion. He was asked to define the real meaning of beauty where he cleverly answered “Ang kagandahan ay iba iba, may saglitan at pangmabilisan pero ang kagandahan na pangmatagalan ay nagmumula sa kalooban” (There are different kinds of beauty, some of which do not stay long and fades quickly but the beauty that stays long are the one that comes from within). He wonderfully end his answer with “ang mundo ay puno ng kagandahan kung walang halong panghuhusga” (the world is full of beauty if there is no judgment involved). It was generally an enjoying film. It may not be as great as “Die Beautiful” which somehow set the standards in any film that belongs to the same category but it was overall fun and entertaining.
My rating for this movie is 2.5 out of 5