Directed by Rod Marmol
Starring Sue Ramirez, RK Bagatsing, Mark Anthony Fernandez
If I had to describe Cuddle Weather in the pithiest way possible, I would call it Leaving Las Vegas Lite. It’s The Apartment relocated to the hip, happening district of late-2010s Poblacion: Sue Ramirez plays a prostitute with a rotating roster of aliases who, for reasons the script by writer-director Rod Marmol keeps harping on but never really explains to the audience’s satisfaction, wants to legally change her actual name.
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The procedure has ramifications on her living arrangements: The film establishes early that she keeps a condo unit, and before you can wonder how a flesh peddler can afford such digs, it tells you that the unit is actually a keepsake from a long-done affair with a client (Mark Anthony Fernandez), an instance of curdled love that has made our heroine predictably jaded.
Our version of Shirley MacLaine’s Fran Kubelik—we’ll pick Adela from her list of AKA’s—overhears an amateur gigolo named Ram (RK Bagatsing) putting on an unconvincing performance in the room next door, and after much pestering and cajoling, agrees to take him on as a roommate at her condo and tutor him on the finer points of high-class prostitution. Still missing the intimacy of her lost client/lover, Adela soon starts paying Ram to cuddle her. A romance inevitably blooms, and complications soon follow.
Cuddle Weatheris entertaining in that trademark Antoinette Jadaone-Dan Villegas kind of way. (No wonder, as the pair’s Project 8 Corner San Joaquin outfit co-produced the movie.) Witticisms fly, made even spicier by the leads’ professions. There are genuine instances of insight, as when Adela drunkenly surmises that there is no sadder person than the one who has lost their horniness for life. And Sue Ramirez has those wide, saucer eyes that convey an unnerving innocence—it’s like watching Betty Boop spout swear words. When Adela and Ram finally get together (as they must in a Jadaone-Villegas joint), the audience giddily cheers.
Let’s get back to that bit I mentioned about “horniness for life”. The supplied subtitle is “desire” which, given the film’s milieu, felt too tame. That’s the inherent problem with Cuddle Weather: It takes an edgy subject and treats it with romantic-comedy kid gloves. Marmol’s witty script glides over the emotional cost of peddling your body for a living, but doesn’t really dive into the price its characters pay. It doesn’t even ask its actors to show skin; it’s a bit ironic that in a year where Kit Thompson, Enzo Pineda and Marco Gumabao all dropped trou for domestic dramas, RK Bagatsing would cover up while playing a gigolo.
The portrayal of prostitution plays at being an adult but is never actually adult—its consequences are all told, not shown—and I’m not sure the right way to approach the degrading effects of the flesh trade is by putting on a That Thing Called Tadhana lens on it. Cuddle Weather has its heart in the right place; I’m just not sure where its head is at.
Photographf frrom @CuddleWeatherPH on Facebook