The absent paternal figure is a central theme in Brillante Mendoza’s The Masseur (Masahista), which focuses on the plight of making a living independently and becoming gradually estranged from loved ones. Iliac (Coco Martin) is a handsome young man who struggles to remain financially secure and works in an all-male brothel. After being abandoned by his alcoholic father, the inexperienced masseur is forced to assume responsibility and provide for his family. He does this by joining a popular massage parlor in Manila, where both regulars and strangers tip according to the sexual bonuses they receive from the employees.
Here he meets one of his newest clients, Marina Hidalgo (Alan Paule), to whom he grows closer. Iliac is not surprised, but disturbed to learn that his father has died. In an effort to care for his bereaved mother, Naty (Jaclyn Jose), the young man travels back home to the provinces of Pampanga. There he is faced with disdain from relatives and is contrived to help the mortician with preparing his father’s body for the funeral. Largely scorned and neglected, Iliac has to revisit painful memories regarding his conflict and constant disappointment with his now-deceased father.
“Filipino model Coco Martin delivers a natural sincerity to the part of Iliac and in particular to his relationship with returning client Alfredo”
Did You Know?
The director Brillante Mendoza was interested in providing a raw, uncensored account of the massage parlors and overall nightlife environment of the concrete jungle in Manila. In The Masseur the director insisted on depicting shots of jeepneys, gay slang, shabu (cocaine) and mahjong in order to accurately document the experience of urban Filipino workers. Review our Gay Themed Films Here