Butas 2 is built on a gimmick. It basically tells the same story three times over, each retelling providing new information that changes the context of the events. It’s an intriguing idea, but it doesn’t really work well with the movie’s story. In some ways, the movie does feel like an improvement over the dozens of purportedly sexy movies that make it to our screens every year. But while the thinking is there, the final product still falls far below what we should be expecting from our cinema.
The movie begins with a man lying unconscious on a staircase in an unfinished house, his blood staining the unadorned concrete. From there, the movie goes back to depict the events leading up to that moment from three different perspectives. The first segment looks at events from the point of view of Jiggo (Ace Castro), the unappreciated son of a wealthy politician. The second part follows Andoy (Rufert John Lirio), the caretaker of the unfinished house. The third follows Pia (Mocha Uson), the mistress of Jiggo’s father. The three play out a game of infidelity and voyeurism, one that leads them towards tragedy.
The movie is kind of like Rashomon, except all three parts are just telling the same version of the truth. The movie is basically structured to hide certain facts from the audience, revealing new angles on the same events one by one as the story goes on. It’s an interesting idea, but the movie doesn’t quite pull it off. The problem is that the movie uses the conceit mainly as a delivery system for a series of weak twists. None of the revelations are big enough to justify the narrative gymnastics that the movie ends up using. It just makes it feel longer and stretched out, with the audience having to sit through the same scenes more than once.
But the idea is kind of novel, and it’s somewhat of a worthy experiment. This just wasn’t the story for it. The movie’s narrative might have benefitted from a more straightforward approach. It already has plenty of interesting elements: a son with something to prove, a woman whose life has been defined by the pleasure that she gives men, and a young man who peeps in order to vicariously live a lifestyle that he can never attain. There’s a story worth telling in there somewhere, and the gimmick only serves to draw attention away from the solid narrative foundation.
For all the good ideas that the movie does possess, it’s hard to get over the movie’s subpar production values. To be fair, it’s a bit of step up from the vast majority of recent sexy movies, but it still looks pretty shoddy. The inconsistent sound makes things a little more difficult. The acting is passable if unremarkable. The actors mostly display a willingness to get naked in front of the camera, exerting little effort to really build their characters.
Butas 2 falls apart pretty quickly, the novelty of its gimmick unable to sustain the narrative. But one can certainly appreciate the thinking behind it, the attempt to do something more meaningful than a parade of naked bodies simulating sex acts. But in the end, the execution is far too flawed, and the movie suffers because of it. There are good ideas sprinkled through the entire picture, but it still exists within that painful region of our local cinema that seems all too willing to fall beneath the technical standards for the sake of just getting a movie out there. Given time, this could have been something.