Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Pretty Rosebud: Traditional Families & Strange Bedfellows
“Sissy” Santos is a political consultant who feels deeply guilty when she
succumbs to adulterous temptation. Yes, that sounds far-fetched, but if you can
accept it, there are merits to be found in Oscar Torre’s Pretty Rosebud (trailer here), written by and starring his real life
wife Chuti Tiu, which opens this Friday in Los Angeles.
Santos works for a combination boutique PR agency and political consulting
firm, but its not clear what they do during odd numbered years. Regardless, she
at least has a going career with opportunities for advancement. That is more
than her lay-about husband Phil can say. He resents his wife’s status as the
sole breadwinner, but he refuses to even consider anything less than his
previous gig. In all honesty, his ambition has dried up and his sex drive essentially
followed with it.
Sissy Santos has this boxing trainer (conveniently played by Torre, who looks
the part). She regrets it afterward, but of course her husband is still his
same insufferably entitled self. Time spent with her traditional Filipino
family does not help much either, especially when they complain about her
golden boy brother’s divorced Anglo girlfriend. To make matters worse, she has
plenty of candidates for further adultery at work, including the congressional
nominee, whose campaign she is assigned to.
might be writing from a Filipina perspective, but the issues Santos wrestles
with should resonate with audiences from diverse ethnic backgrounds, with old
school parents. Arguably, she really stacks the deck against dumb old Phil, but
her scenes with the family’s Catholic priest are surprisingly well written and
more than fair to the priest. In fact, the good Father just might have some
helpful, nonjudgmental counsel to offer.
Rosebud was conceived as a showcase
for Tiu (a former Miss Illinois), but she proves to be equal to the challenge
of carrying the picture. She is a striking presence, but the maturity tempering
her sexuality is something you almost never see on film. It is a bold, vulnerably
exposed performance. While Torre has limited screen time as Alejandro the
trainer, he helps generate the necessary heat to set in motion all the
subsequent conflicts. Richard Yniguez’s Father Antonio also nicely bolsters the
film’s forgiving tone. In contrast, Kipp Shiotani certainly makes viewers contemptuous
of Phil, which seems to be his assignment, while the Santos parents are mostly
played as broad, churchy stereotypes.
is a small intimate film, but it juggles some
heavy themes relatively dexterously. If nothing else, the gym scenes ought to
convince DirecTV they need Tiu and Torre for the next season of Kingdom. Recommended for those who
appreciate a frank, women’s POV adultery drama, Pretty Rosebud opens this Friday (1/16) in Los Angeles at the Arena Cinema.
Labels: Chuti Tiu, Infidelity movies