Cinemalaya review: Mylene Dizon impresses with 'beautiful pain' in 'Belle Douleur'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Aug 07 2019 01:06 PM | Updated as of Aug 07 2019 01:08 PM

Mylene Dizon and Kit Thompson in 'Belle Douleur'

Ever since "Glorious" heated up the iWant screens last year with the trysts of Angel Aquino and Tony Labrusca, more May-December affair movies where the woman is much older than the man are coming up this year. In Cinemalaya 2019 alone, there are two of them: "Belle Douleur" with Mylene Dizon and Kit Thompson; and "Malamaya" with Sunshine Cruz and Enzo Pineda. Next week, there will be a mainstream film, "Just a Stranger," with Anne Curtis and Marco Gumabao. 

The main gist of the stories will probably all be similar. The older woman is alone, lonely or neglected, meets this good-looking younger guy and gets swept up with his sweet words and sexual prowess. The main difference will probably be about the conflicts they will face as a couple and whether the affair will end up a success or a failure. I even feel that even these two relationship issues may actually be similar as well. There seems to be too little room to navigate with this particular trope. Let us see how they do.

In "Belle Douleur," Liz was a 45-year old single woman who lived with her mother, a retired anthropology professor. She worked as a clinical psychologist working with children with special needs. When her mother died, Liz's friends decided to post the antiques in her house up for sale on the internet. Josh, an attractive antique shop owner/rock musician 20 years Liz's junior, was her first customer. What started as cute exchanges of text message later between the two of them later escalated into a full-on YOLO love affair. 

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The conflicts Liz and Josh experience were not so much from other people, but from themselves. While no one actually had snide comments about their age difference, it was Josh himself who threw tantrums to rebuke Liz for acting like his mother. It was the ending that set this particular film apart, an ending you'd never actually think of, which was good. However, the set-up going towards that ending felt a bit random and rushed.

Mylene Dizon is as usual faultless in her acting, which was mostly internal. It was her face which was revealing her varied emotions, especially the titular "beautiful pain," rather than her words. A Best Actress nomination for Dizon is inevitable. Kit Thompson was just fresh off "Momol Nights," another film where he was also the object of a woman's desires. The women in the audience were actually cheering during his sexy scenes. He was very natural in his scenes with the children. Dizon and Thompson actually had effective chemistry together, and this kept the whole film together despite the limitations of the story. 

Long-time film producer Atty. Joji Alonso finally took the plunge to direct her first feature-length film. She confessed that this film was inspired by a viral video of a French woman talking about her affair with a much younger man. 

This film basically just expanded on the story told in this 7-minute video which was why you can feel the awkward stretch in the second act. The man problems of Liz's BFFs Carlo (Marlon Rivera) and Lauren (Jenny Jamora), and frustrations of parents with special children, were fitted in to try to beef up the sagging middle, but were not directly contributory to the main plot. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."