While at first it may seem like a typical pink film fodder, Auraeus Solito’s Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros) overcomes this fate and turns out to be one of the most endearing explorations of the life in the slums. Only twelve years-old, Maxi (an excellent Nathan Lopez) acts as the mother to his father and older hoodlum brothers. He cooks, cleans and runs errands for them. His blazing, colorful outfits might give away most of his character, but there is a silent insistence running deep within his mind, especially when he falls in love with a cop (JR Valentin) who happens to know his family’s dealings and schemings.
Maxi is a refreshing study on the slums of Manila. While it is always gritty, Maxi feels like an ode to the heart of life, with the characters’ desires and struggles portrayed through a bittersweet vitality. More than a coming of age film, Maxi reinstates the trappings of a Filipino melodrama by turning a low-key persistence. Maxi is more indiepop rather than an angsty rock outfit—lyrical, melodic, and charming. Don Jaucian