Contrary to common notions, Pagdadalaga is not a gay movie. It is not generally about the self-discovery of a 12-year old gay boy. Although Maxi is the pivotal character, this movie is mainly about his family's attempts to break free from the clutches of almighty poverty. The incorporation of the gay theme is just a symbolism utilized by the film. It made use of a number of metaphors between Maxi's coming of age and the epidemic that continuously plagues the metro. There's no antagonist in this movie but the cruelty of life itself which drives the characters to engage in antagonistic acts. There is a story behind every character. Thus making the viewers empathize with each character and understand where they are coming from.
Unlike other indie/ art films which rely on controversial sexually-charged representations (like Live Show, Pila Balde, Masahista, etc.) to depict the bleakness of life, Pagdadalaga captured the admiration of the critics amidst the absence of this. The movie steered clear of the pitfalls of such delicate subject matter. A breath of fresh air in an industry jaded by senseless blockbuster fantasies and foreign superheroes clad in spandex.
If you are going to watch this film, the main consideration should be the core content of this magnum opus and not its production greatness. Nonetheless, Pagdadalaga got away with its so-so technicalities because of the laudable camera work and intelligent shots. The musical score is also praise-worthy. The scenes were funny and poignant at the same time. A very realistic depiction of the way of living in the stews of Sampaloc.
Maxi's naivete nature with his innocence and vulnerability can make you cry even without any dialogue. More so, other mediums aside from talking were employed, intent gazes and whistles speak of emotions that even the speech mechanism cannot utter. The complexity of each character is vividly illustrated through subtle means. My favorites are Maxi's father and his brother (played by Ping Medina). But despite its meritorious characterization, the portrayal of some of the actors lack depth.
Pagdadalaga is a heartfelt family movie -- a tale of life in the slums and the bittersweet aftertaste of first love. This film will surely touch your heart.