A neorealist coming-of-age story infused with the pulse-pounding anxieties and excitement of first love, The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros focuses its tender gaze on the titular twelve-year old Filipino (Nathan Lopez), an effervescent, effeminate boy whose loyalty to his criminal father and two brothers wavers after he falls for adult police officer Victor (JR Valentin). Depicting the amorous affections of its pre-teen protagonist with no trace of deviant sensationalism, Auraeus Solito’s debut begins as a vibrant, hilarious celebration of all things Maximo, capturing – especially in a makeshift fashion show sequence characterized by outlandish outfits – the young diva in all his prancing, strutting glory. Once Victor appears on the scene, though, the film morphs from being an amusing portrait of its vivacious hero to a more somber, noir-inflected tale of honor, faith and conflicting allegiances to kin and self. Shot in digital video that gives its lushly colorful locale a tangible juiciness, Maximo Oliveros eventually partakes in some overwrought religious symbolism that, in self-consciously striving for allegorical profundity, dissonantly clashes with its initial air of joyful breeziness. Such minor shortcomings, however, never come close to obscuring the magnificence of Lopez’s buoyant, flamboyant, star-making turn as the fabulously fey Maximo.
(2006 New Directors/New Films Series)