Movie Review for Working Beks

'Working Beks' Feels Like a Rushed First Draft

Working Beks

Comedy | R-13 | 1 hr 50 min
Viva Films

Working Beks follows five gay characters over the course of a day. Tommy (TJ Trinidad) works at an energy drink company, and is surprised when he doesn't get a promotion that he clearly deserves. Gorgeous (Jon Lapus) is the breadwinner of his very large family, and runs into trouble with his deadbeat father. Champ (Edgar Allan Guzman) is a TV star hiding out after a sex video of his is uploaded to the Internet. Mandy (Joey Paras) is trying to fight his gay impulses on the day of his wedding. And Jet (Prince Stefan) is a call center agent who realizes that he might be HIV positive.

The five stories are different, but they essentially have the same approach. They have earnest cores, the narratives trying to seriously address some real issue, like discrimination, or the threat of HIV, or the difficulty of coming out. Then they surround these cores with a lot of broad humor. There isn't really much that happens in these stories. Mandy's story, for example, is just a series of scenes where the character is subjected to different kinds of aversion therapy. Gorgeous is mostly a passive character, stuck watching on the sidelines while stuff happens around him.

There's some value in what is eventually depicted in these stories. There's certainly something to be gained from the film's straightforward depiction of what it's like to go get tested for HIV, and some of the things it manages to say along the way are definitely worth saying. But in the context of a feature film, everything just feels sloppy and half-baked. The film doesn't even really tell complete stories. The whole thing seems to be about getting to certain scenes without having to do the work of building to them.

In Mandy's story, for example, we don't really get to see what his relationship with his fiancée is like. His journey would be a whole lot more meaningful if we just got to see more of what he stands to lose if he continues the path he's on. But instead, we're just treated to a series of really broad scenes of him punishing himself for his impulses. The film completely overestimates the comedic value of these sequences, all of them going on for much too long. The film's stabs at comedy don't really work in general. The film just doesn't do a great job of selling laughs, the direction and the editing doing very little to help elicit any kind of humorous reaction.

There's just no rhythm to this movie. Scenes go on past their punchlines, before cutting to something completely different. Characters will be tearfully bearing their souls in one scene, and other characters might be throwing up in the next. It just doesn't do anyone any good. The actors are all game, but none of them can easily shift between the film's extremes. The ones who do best are Edgar Allan Guzman and Bela Padilla, who benefit from participating in a story that plays with the artificiality of the world being depicted.

One can certainly appreciate the things Working Beks is saying. But if anything, the film feels a little behind the times. It's approaching these issues with such clumsy bluntness that they don't really feel well served. It gets to a few interesting places, but the journey there isn't really worth it. And then the movie just ends with a lot left hanging, on a scene that does not at all feel like an ending. The film didn't need to wrap things up neatly, but it could have tried a little hard to wrap things up at all. This film feels like the first draft of a script, the clumsiness still all in there, the stories just not complete.

My Rating:

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