After months of endless lockdowns, political instability, and societal turmoil, Dolly Dulu’s romantic comedy, “The Boy Foretold by the Stars”, is a ray of light piercing through the dark chamber that is 2020. Marketed as the Philippines’ first Boys’ Love (BL) feature film, The Boy Foretold by the Stars provides virtual audiences with a good-natured, escapist romance story that may lead many to yearn for the pre-pandemic times.
Filipinos are no stranger to the appeal of BL films and TV shows as they have become increasingly popular worldwide. Even in the Philippines with its largely conservative population, the BL genre has managed to find a wide audience which is not only limited to its LGBTQ+ community. Following other Asian countries that have already created a plethora of BL films and series, the Filipino BL genre is hot on the heels with new series such as “Gameboys”, “Boys’ Lockdown”, and “Gaya sa Pelikula” all only gaining prominence in 2020. That is why it is refreshing to see a BL film being included in the Philippines’ biggest yearly local film festival.
Powered by likable performances from the two main actors, Adrian Lindayag (who plays a gay student named Dominic) and Keann Johnson (who plays a jock named Luke), the film strongly benefits from this emotional core they both develop over the course of the movie’s runtime.
Without having to reveal much of the film’s plot points, the story revolves around two guys in an all-boys Catholic school. One is a closeted Dominic deciding to go to a fortune teller to guide him to a possible significant other. Meanwhile, basketball player Luke has a shaky relationship with his girlfriend and takes the chance to join a retreat event, in order to move on. Coincidentally, Dominic is the lead student handling the said retreat. Fate seems to have something in store for the boys as they are thrown in a journey of love, friendship, and acceptance.
With that, the movie is pretty simple, straightforward, and a bit uninventive. There is not even much subtlety in the script and how scenes are carried out by the cast. However, I commend the film for doing its best to explore real-world issues of LGTBQ+ discrimination and homophobia, of how many of them are wrongfully repressed and bullied by the world at large. An advocacy is also raised on how the general public should view or treat members of the LGBTQ+ as fellow human beings rather than individuals to be mocked and belittled. These types of stories deserve to be tackled even further in mainstream media, hence it’s disappointing that the film chooses to play safe by sticking mostly to the surface-level love, attraction, and “leaving-it-to-fate” trope common in many other romance flicks. But then again, it’s understandable that a lot of people may want this simplicity in a year that is so complicated.
Moreover, the aesthetic of the movie is pleasing enough with the production realistic and unflashy for a film of its type. It could have benefitted more if the directing had more spice to it and if there were more risks given to the storytelling. For these reasons, the film’s strongest points lie on the shoulders of the actors’ charm, most especially Lindayag and Johnson who both share the film’s best moments in a field of candle-lit lanterns under the pale moonlight. The film’s theme song, “Ulan”, by Jhay Cura and Pau Protacio also fits what transpires in the narrative, and is able to evoke a feeling of warmth and passion to its listeners.
All in all, The Boy Foretold by the Stars is a wonderful celebration of humanity and of love in a time when all that seems to be fading. My hope is that this is only a stepping off point for other talented Filipino directors and scriptwriters who can expand more on the BL genre or even the wider romantic comedy genre and take them to new, dizzying heights.