How do you cope if you fall in love with your best friend? This simple, but agonizing question is at the centre of Baka Bukas (Maybe Tomorrow), a heartwarming motion picture about young love and the importance of companionship. Queer writer and film director Samantha Lee opens up a long-awaited discussion on the ups and downs of relationships between straight and LGBTQ people, as well as on the never-ending road to self-discovery and coming to terms with your sexuality.
Everyone knows that Alex (Jasmine Curtis), a twenty-three-year-old girl from Manila, is not straight. That is, everyone aside from her trusted and beloved best friend, Jess (Louis de los Reyes), who has no idea of Alex’s sexual orientation. After a troubling phone call from the young girl’s ex-girlfriend, Jess realizes not only that her comrade and partner in crime is a lesbian, but also that she might have feelings for her. Confused, but also excited, the two mates take a difficult step together and begin a romantic affair. Predictably, this puts a strain on their friendship as their love dwindles over time. Jess is only experimenting and tries to hide her dating life, whereas Alex invests herself completely in the relationship but is nevertheless aware that she will inevitably be hurt. When things turn sour, the two decide to take some time apart before they return to being “just friends”. Although Jess holds up her end of the deal, her friend ghosts her and they do not see each other for over a year.
The unique element of Baka Bukas (Maybe Tomorrow) is its earnest spunk – the quirky dialogue is always on-point, the performances are solid and seem to flow naturally and the plot, albeit dry at times, invariably picks up its rhythm and keeps the viewer consistently engaged. The film does not have a weighty stake like homophobia, systematic discrimination or abuse, which is both refreshing and inviting. This allows Lee’s ingenious humor and candor to easily shine through and still deliver a not-so-crucial, but nonetheless important message to her audience: that “true love is never left behind”. And that it is perfectly acceptable to not know what you want and have several “in-betweens” until you find it.
Ultimately, the director’s entire project with Baka Bukas (Maybe Tomorrow) is not reduced only to a typical love story. There is a coming-of-age feel to Lee’s motion picture as it explores the intricate and sometimes gruesomely painful journey of becoming comfortable and at ease with who you are. The film also teaches an important lesson on choosing between short-term pleasure and your long-term goals and direction. Despite its fairly aloof nature, the movie does not lack structure – Lee’s background in documentary filmmaking is certainly visible all throughout. Moreover, the plot gains more substance and authenticity through the autobiographical elements which are constantly present. For instance, certain objects from Alex’s room are personal effects from the director’s actual bedroom and a large part of the script is based on Lee’s real-life experiences.
The viewer’s experience with the film depends largely on their expectations. Baka Bukas (Maybe Tomorrow) will not shatter your worldview, change political positions or attempt to solve some of society’s most pressing issues concerning LGBTQ. The plot simply offers a bona fide glimpse into the privileged life of the youth of the Philippines. However, the movie will light up your mood for a few hours and propose a heartening exploration into how one can tackle a friendship which is slowly progressing towards something more. For some it might seem trite, for others it might offer relatable and invaluable insight.
Baka Bukas (Maybe Tomorrow) is one of Melbourne Queer Film Festival’s most sincere and high-spirited additions. The motion picture brings warmth, laughter and a bold, liberating perspective on relationships that viewers can certainly identify with. Lee’s film is a surprisingly accurate and adorable account of what goes on with both parties of a friendship when romance interferes and how our past loves shape us into who we are today.