Maligned even before it was shown, Sakristan’s premiere started with a big bang! Like a GMM-tv BL premiere, the chats are populated with eager and excited fans. In the case of Sakristan, there is already an assumption of defiance and notoriety. The opening credit baits conservative viewers to have an open mind. On the other hand, it offers a comedic ‘remark’ to a captured audience that is waiting with bated breath.
– Edited by TheFNGee
Dir. Darryl Yap offers something unique that is not entirely BL (Boys Love) but is more of a gay coming-of-age. The feel is indie – raw acting yet complemented with superior techniques. How so? Given the restrictions of the current pandemic, the scenes captured the Philippine countryside, which is relaxed, balmy, and traffic-free. The soundtrack is sexy and hauntingly beautiful. Even at Episode 1, it’s comparable and competitive with most Thai BL scenes of the past and recent years.
You can watch the episode on Vicentiments official YouTube channel.
Let’s see. What the series is all about?
An athletic scholar, Zach (Clifford Pusing), is ordered by the school board to become an altar server as a punishment for an offense he committed. The board believes this will keep him away from usual mischievous activities. The altar servers follow a buddy-buddy system where the sheep (a term used to refer to newbies) is partnered with a senior altar boy, called the shepherd. Because of his notoriety, Zach is assigned as the sheep of the head of the shepherds, Christian (John Henry Villanueva).
- Zach and Christian are exact opposites, up to their physicality.
- Zach is sporty, aggressive, particularly naughty, and has a fair complexion. He is also failing academically.
- Christian is rigid, feels righteous, yet harbors a certain rebellious streak, and has a darker complexion. He is an achiever in all areas and seems to be making all the right moves.
Episode One offers both current events and flashbacks to bring viewers to the status quo. Christian quits being an altar boy in his pursuit of personal happiness, which is Zach. Yet happiness appears less of the logic behind his actions, but rather an impetus to do the right thing.
So here’s the rub:
- The acting is raw and tentative. The onscreen chemistry between Clifford Pusing and John Henry Villanueva is somewhat lacking. Clifford (a real-life athlete) is daring. I can remember watching him as a triathlon competitor. The kid has grown and has so much screen presence. Villanueva is a revelation! His acting is defined by his ability to use his expressive eyes. However, both require acting workshops to keep them aware of how to properly deliver their lines and make sure they mean what they say
- Casting the right actor is the job of a casting agent, yet it was Dir. Darryl Yap, who spearheaded the task. The traits required of both main characters are difficult to find, especially so since an audition is not enough to get the right cast. Yet, the appearance and the onscreen presence are there. Clifford is tall, yet sporty in an age that is yet to break into manhood. John Henry looks exactly like the altar boy from a small town parish. Again, it boils down to chemistry and believability
- The focus on the main characters gives the series a solid direction. While the group of gay boys talking about boys (of course!) is comedic relief at its best, the focus remains on Zach and Christian. This particular artistic direction serves Sakristan properly. As in a lot of Thai BL cases, the lack of direction and arbitrarily adding too many supplemental characters can be confusing and even annoying. Knowing there are few supporting characters already makes the series promising
- Tackling religion, sex, and intimacy, and gayness is a surefire way to attract controversy. The series will either succumb to pressures to ‘fit in’ or approach it with seriousness and urgency. That remains to be seen.
A certain scene evokes emotions for the Catholic faithful and it’s a sincere tribute from the filmmaker, who is currently being subjected to criticisms by the same people whom he shares faith with.
The birds that fly are dear to God, they shall not die;
The fish that swim are dear to God, they shall not perish;
The flowers that bloom are dear to God, they shall not wither;
The towering trees are dear to God, they shall not shrink.
At less than 20 minutes, Episode one encapsulates the challenges of a young boy’s quest for spirituality and for his own happiness. He has made his choice. Is it the right one?
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]