Thoughts on Die Beautiful

A glamorous life deserves a fabulous death.

Die Beautiful premiered at the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival. The film won the Audience Award while the lead actor, Paolo Ballesteros won Best Actor. Even before its premier and the awards, the film already garnered some attention.

It all started during the film festival’s red carpet where Paolo Ballesteros dressed as Angelina Jolie then as Julia Roberts when he accepted the award. Now fast forward to the announcement of the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival official entries. Die Beautiful was included in the list and I couldn’t be happier! I’ve been looking forward to watch it on the big screen since the news broke.

Die Beautiful

Directed By: Jun Robles Lana

A transgender woman’s corpse is stolen by her friends to honor her wish to be presented as a different celebrity on each night of her wake. A poignant character study celebrating individuality.

The first time I read the synopsis and saw the trailer, the film gave me an impression that it’s going to be fun but different. When I finally got to watch it, I decided to add Die Beautiful on my must-watch Filipino films. Why?

The story itself…

Photo from: Facebook.com/DieBeautiful

Die Beautiful is more than a transgender’s story. Yes, there are scenes wherein Trisha Echeverria (Paolo’s character) was looking for acceptance, joining pageants and undergoing surgery and so on. You might say, that’s the typical image of gays portrayed in films and TV series. That may be true. But, my dear friends, this is what you call life.

The film presented us the journey of Patrick /Trisha Echeverria by showing us the many faces of life. Instead of sugar coating, Die Beautiful gave us reality including the challenges and heartaches in life. Besides the main character’s story, they didn’t leave out the rest of the characters especially the best friend. I would say that the loyal Barbs is the glue that brings the entire story together. Why and how? Well, through the film’s wonderful storytelling.

The storytelling..

A story, no matter how great will become unnoticed if storytelling doesn’t captivate your audience. With Die Beautiful, I was captivated from the beginning. The film used an unconventional narrative structure to tell our lead character’s story. In fact, it was the right move as it explored time making the story even more interesting.

The film began by showing the audience Patrick, an innocent little boy who is being true to himself. He along with his friends are playing the role of beauty queens in a pageant while his older sister, Beth films them. Then his father arrives reprimanding Patrick’s actions and his daughter. After that, we see a bunch of makeup tools from brushes to eye shadow palettes and finally Barbs fixing Trisha’s make up along with their two high school friends.

Since the beginning, the audience already knew the main character died. From there, we were treated on an amazing roller coaster narrative from past to present and back to past while meeting the people in Tricia’s life.

I have to say Die Beautiful also have a beautiful ending. On the last night of the wake, people were waiting for the last make up transformation. Being the best friend, Barbs chose to show the one and true face of Tricia, the most beautiful person he has ever known.

Photo from: Facebook.com/DieBeautiful

Deleted scenes…

Now, if you check online like many films there are also some scenes deleted here. Die Beautiful director Jun Lana shared the clips on his Twitter. Personally, I think they made the right decision although I did love Gladys Reyes’ (Patrick’s sister) and Joel Torre’s (Patrick’s father) scene where the father tried to get his son’s body. It feels that this scene would have been another turning point; however, the film did good without it.

Lahat sila nagpunta rito para makiramay kay Tricia. Pero ni isa hindi natin kilala. Sila yung totoong nagmahal sa kanya, hindi tayo. Hayaan mo na si Tricia sa kanila.

I really want to keep a copy of Die Beautiful. Unfortunately, they will not be releasing a DVD or blu-ray version. Who knows, maybe next year? If not, I would still be happy to see it on cable or in any online entertainment service.

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