Archie del Mundo’s “Taksikab” also has sexually explicit scenes—though many of them apparently ended up on the cutting-room floor of the MTRCB. Fortunately for Del Mundo’s film, it transcends the exploitative nature of its story, about taxi driver, David (Kristoffer King), who plies his route in the concrete jungle as he figures out how to stop his best friend, rentboy Bodji (Adrian Sebastian), from leaving the city for a fresh start in his hometown in the province. Problem is, he hasn’t even told Bodji that what he feels for him is more than just friendship!
Del Mundo utilizes a round-dance narrative design to capture the pervasive decadence and amorality resulting from stark poverty, which markedly contrasts with the renewed vigor felt by the country’s middle class as it welcomes the new administration of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
David’s love for his bosom buddy isn’t the only secret lurking in the shadows of “Taksikab.” As we follow David and Bodji, we are introduced to a motley of kaleidoscopic, albeit desperate characters surrounding them, each with respective dilemma to hurdle.
Marife (Marife Necesito), who used to be married to David, is an aging prostitute who returns to hooking as she dotes on her young cigarette-vendor friend, Toto (Martin delos Santos) —who later shocks her by acting as her pimp! Drug dealer Dustin Jose gives in to the sexual advances of his gay admirer to get his merchandise. He sells his stash to a junkie (Kevin Vitug), who in turn sells his body to Jonas Gruet to support his drug habit and find his rent money. But things don’t turn out well for him, because Gruet wants what he’s not offering—he wants to, uhurm, sodomize him, which comes with better pay!
As Vitug leaves Gruet’s room, in comes another guy, an indie actor (Marcus Cabrera) who also volunteers his prurient services to Gruet to support his son. Older taxi driver Tony Lapena allows gay deaf-mute Ray An Dulay fondle him— then forces him to pay for services rendered! Their stories unfold and coalesce as they move about in the muted shadows of David’s murky world.
Jonas Gruet and Marcus Cabrera
The cinematic picture Del Mundo paints is bleak and sordid, but it’s hard to not get affected by the engaging dynamics that transpire among the movie’s protagonists and their respective stories. The production isn’t as cohesive as it should be, and some segments aren’t resolved as seamlessly as they ought to be, but you’ll be riveted by the grim repercussions of the characters’ actions, all efficiently played out with dramatic vim and believability by Necesito, King and the rest of the efficient cast. This makes an honorable resume for the cast’s young rookies serious with their craft, most of whom look natural in their fabricated environment (even Dustin Jose who once again plays a drug dealer, like he did in “Lagpas”).
The characters they play are flawed, but viewers nevertheless root for some of them and even empathize with others - even when they don’t share their morality, because it isn’t hard to suspend disbelief that they’re real people driven by comprehensible or cogent motivations—and it doesn’t hurt that many of “Taksikab’s” actors register well onscreen, which is something you hardly see in Cris Pablo’s “creative” endeavors.
Marcus Cabrera: fresh, believable, arrogant confidence