American Adobo is the latest, um, dish in the seemingly endless string of food-themed melodramas that have stuffed the indie marketplace since Ang Lee delivered Eat Drink Man Woman. Less appetizing than Tortilla Soup but nowhere near as shrill as ABCD, American Adobo keeps the food on the backburner, letting wounded Philippine-American hearts simmer before a magical-realist vision of New York. Vincent R. Nebrida’s story is likeable in spite of the mawkish emotional predicaments of his characters: Mike (Christopher De Leon) itches for politicized times of yore at the risk of losing his family; the vain Marissa (Dina Bonnevie) lets her studly boyfriend get in the way of her happiness; the womanizing Raul (Paolo Montalban) gets an HIV test; Gerry (Ricky Davao) owns up to his sexuality at the risk of alienating his traditionalist mother; and Tere (Cherry Pie Picache) must confront her inner-old maid. Nebrida implies Gerry’s closet-homosexuality via the character’s references to “Torvill and Dean” and his frustration over Forrest Gump having won the Oscar (coupled with his desire to be a creative director). So, there are enough clichés and Three’s Company-style sucker punches here to stink up Tere’s American adobo, but after a Magnolia-style chaos linker (no singing here, just some letter reading), director Laurice Guillen begins to home in on the individual panels of her broad tapestry. Declarations of love are made, tears flow in sync with a winter’s snowfall and Guillen stages an uncomfortably brave “coming out” ritual inside the hospital room of Gerry’s dying lover. New Years resolutions are made and emotions are nakedly purged before a skyline that is made all the more surreal by the presence of the World Trade Center in the background.
- Outrider Pictures
- 104 min
- Laurice Guillen
- Vincent R. Nebrida
- Paolo Montalban, Dina Bonnevie, Ricky Davao, Cherry Pie Picache, Randy Becker, Christopher De Leon
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: