by Caron Knauer
INS&OUTS Magazine Long Island Cityn NY
Hector Conange, director of Cinemarosa, Queens’ only queer film series, presented the film to a full house at the Jackson Heights Public Library as part of its kick-off event for June Pride Month. Antonio’s Secret (Ang Lihim ni Antonio) was written by Lex Bonife (in Tagalog; there are English subtitles) and directed by Joselito Altarejos.
Tong’s attraction to men intensifies when his hunky 25-year-old bisexual uncle Jonbert (Josh Ivan Morales) comes for a long visit, moving into Tong’s bedroom. Tong stares longingly at his uncle’s buff body. Jonbert, a hedonistic ne’er-do-well, enjoys Tong’s attention, and allows his nephew to pleasure him several times. But Jonbert soon grows bored of the blowjobs, and rapes Tong. The graphic scene goes on for much too long: We could have used fewer minutes of Tong’s screaming. Tong’s mother, Tere, in a vivid performance by Shamaine Buencamino, walks in, witnesses the abuse, and in a rage, stabs Jonbert to death.
The montage of mother-and-son still shots, which follow the murder, is oddly moving, and the image of Tong washing the blood off his mother’s hands is a soothing antidote to the shocking climax. The acting is compelling, and despite erratic pacing, uneven editing, and some wobbly camerawork, Altarejos is a director to watch. Antonio’s Secret is affecting, disturbing, and worth a glimpse. Available on Netflix.com.
By CARON KNAUER