Notes from a really long weekend: Muli.

It will be a while before I will get over Adolf Alix Jr’s Muli.

Sid Lucero played a gay former seminarian-turned-revolutionary who inherited an inn from his late mother. Cogie Domingo was student, and later a lawyer, who became a frquent guest in that inn. Eventually, the two were drawn into an affair which lasted several decades.

Various archival recordings pepper the story to place it against the backdrop of Philippine history. Some of these tend to call too much attention to themselves, as if the movie was a history trivia game. The aging of the actors through make-up could have been done better, too, as well as the fireworks shown near the end of the movie. For someone who became a big-shot lawyer, Cogie Domingo fequently slurs and mumbles his lines; but that’s Cogie Domingo for you.

I could nitpick at all the tropes and gimmicks the movie used and it would merely be a way of making it appear that I was not really affected by its story. And that would be lie.

Muli (The Affair) screenshot

The affair the two men had lasted more than four decades and the lives of their respective spouses (the lawyer married his girlfriend, the innkeeper got himself a long-term boyfriend). Did the affair weigh more than their legitimate partners? Did they love their respective spouses less? Was it a different kind of love that they reserve for each other? Should they choose the affair over the legitimate relationship?

No, the movie did not wish to answer that.

In most Filipino movies, the main characters must choose whether to go with the legitimate spouse or the mistress (usually with the legal wife winning). The deliberate moral ambiguity on how the movie presented the affair was both intriguing and frustrating. Long after the movie, Juna, Lanchie and I were still arguing about the main characters’ decision to keep the affair going for so long.

For many closeted gay men, a part of their lives will always remain a secret for many people. In the innkeeper’s case, he was a walking cabinet of secrets: a professor and member of the secretive (and illegal) Communist Party, very few people know of his political leanings, his sexuality, his boyfriend, his other boyfriend. It blows one’s mind wrapping around the layers upon layers of secrets and double lives.

Which might be the reason why his relationship with the lawyer transcended a mere affair: they shared each other’s secrets. That will not work for a normal relationship. I suspect that, if they entered a normal relationship, it will end quickly and bitterly for both of them.