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T-Bird At Ako (1982)
Source: PARADE, September 22, 1982/Movie Parade
by Isagani Cruz
T-Bird at Ako Movie Poster
Starring Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos, Dindo Fernando, Tommy Abuel  Directed by Danny Zialcita
That Danny Zialcita's T-Bird at Ako is entertaining cannot be doubted. The plot situations are funny. The lines are witty. The pacing is fast. The lesbian love of Nora Aunor for Vilma Santos, moreover, is extremely clever, since the two superstars in real life would not be caught dead in such a relationship.

Zialcita has made a career of doing impossible things. He made he-man Dindo Fernando a homosexual in the
Mahinhin series. He now makes Aunor a lesbian. When he tries to make Santos a low-class beerhouse dancer, however, he fails. That makes his record two out of three impossible things, not bad for normally sedate local cinema.

This film shows Zialcita at his best - irreverent, tongue-in-cheek, unconcerned with larger themes, focused on obsessive sexual relationships. Let's take the dialogue first, which cleverly juxtaposes the fiction of the film with the reality of the careers of the two superstars. Thus references are made to Santos' being a "burlesque queen." One character is even named "Rubia," after
Rubia Servios (1978), Santos' competition film against Aunor's Atsay (1978). More than these allusions, however, the film features sparkling exchanges between Santos and Aunor. Most impressive of all the lines perhaps are those in the court room sequence, since the opposing arguments are easy to follow, yet logical in structure.

The direction is tight and masterful. Although one always gets reminded in a Zialcita film of sequences from foreign films, there is a minimum of unmotivated blocking in this film. Each sequence contributes to the whole film (if there is copying, in other words, and I do think there is in this film, the copying is not done simply to be cute or clever, but in accordance with the logical requirements of the plot).

The performances, as expected of a Zialcita film, are excellent. Aunor is more effective as the confused lesbian, primarily because Santos is not able to get the rough and ready quality of low-class hospitality girls. Tommy Abuel is terrific in his role as the patient suitor. Fernando is given too little space to develop his character, but what he has, he makes good use of. Captivating is Suzanne Gonzales, though she has to learn to use her face a bit more to express varying emotions. In their brief roles, Anita Linda and Odette Khan are delightful.
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