This is what happens in Kubli
: a guy returns to his hometown, reconnects with best friend from childhood, receives oral sex from a random gay guy in exchange for the promise of new shoes, and later gets scandalized when he realizes that his best friend is in love with him. It's hard to reconcile all those disparate elements, the film unwilling to build a proper story. All it's got is a series of dramatic montages that will remind people of bad videoke. Kubli makes the case that drama is simply a bunch of people looking wistful while a pop songs plays over their sadness. Predictably, this doesn't work.
Raffy (Johnron Tañada) and Marco (Eugene Tejada) were best friends back when they were kids, a fact cemented when Raffy saved Marco from drowning one time. But Marco had to leave for Manila, leaving Raffy on his own. Years later, Raffy is scrimping and saving in order to get the money to study in Manila. Meanwhile, Marco suddenly turns up in his old hometown. The two eventually run into each other, reigniting long dormant feelings between them. But as soon as people get wind of their closeness, the two are driven apart by their own fears and insecurities.
The film feels like it was barely written. Most of it is just a string of montages featuring people looking vaguely sad into the distance. It doesn't really feel much like a movie at all. Rather, it's all reminiscent of the footage that accompanies videoke. The characters slide down walls, look dreamily into the water, and shed single tears as they contemplate their place in the universe. If one can overlook the videoke aesthetics, one would still be left by a strange story that makes little emotional sense.
A new character is suddenly introduced in the middle of the picture. When she first sees the two best friends in an embrace, she immediately falls to tears. Never mind that the film never really showed us her relationship with the other characters, or the reason for her deep sense of loss. It is ought that the film has another excuse to launch into another videoke montage. It should be noted that the movie uses unlicensed pop music to score its scenes. Instrumental versions of My Heart Will Go On and All of My Life add to the videoke effect.
The film fails at the most basic of levels. A lot of the shots aren't even in focus. The cast offers very little reason to care about any of the characters' plights. Johnron Tañada and Eugene Tejada actually look pretty uncomfortable with each other. Their big dramatic moments leave them shouting their lines, volume taking the place of acting. Jenaira Chu is stuck with a character that doesn't a whole lot of sense, and her soapish acting makes it feel even more ridiculous.
Kubli isn't the first local pink movie to make use of unlicensed music, but it really ought to be the last. The country seems so serious about preventing piracy, but it condones it when it's placed within the context of a bad exploitation film. When a production can't be bothered to adhere to international copyright laws, it's no surprise that it can't be bothered to be any good as well. This movie offers nothing to the viewer, the whole thing seemingly assembled on one drunken night while hanging out in a videoke bar. It's pretty terrible through and through.