Hate men? “Donor” will feed your fire.
Lumbering towards its staggeringly depressing finale, Mark Afable Meily’s potent downer rolls out a human doormat, then soils it with the dirty feet of an immature sociopath.
Selling gay porn DVD’s from a bustling Philippine sales booth (one popular title is “400 Blowjobs,” and we’re not talking Truffaut), an impish young woman named Lizzy (Meryll Soriano) is regularly busted by the law. Hawk a DVD. Run from cops. Get out of jail. And so it goes.
Following another tense police shakedown, Lizzy explores alternate options for scoring cash. A fellow street vendor ushers her into the clinical, creepy underworld of illicit organ donation. An ailing Arab man offers her a serious cash-for-kidney offer. Lizzy soon finds herself selling more than just smut films.
Danny (Baron Geisler), Lizzy’s slovenly, macho boyfriend, squanders her money and refuses to wear a rubber. It’s tempting to call Danny a TOTAL loser, were it not for the fact that this Glock-waving bum wins the “Biggest Asshole in Onscreen History” trophy hands-down.
Director Mark Afable Meily wants us to sympathize with his struggling heroine, and we do. Like Catalina Sandino Moreno in “Maria Full of Grace,” Soriano radiates resilience – a beating heart in a bloodless universe.
And man, what a clinical, pragmatic process she endures. Everyone involved, from the doctor to the donor, are dismissively matter-of-fact about Lizzy’s sacrifice. They’re not sinister fiends, and actually quite practical about their business. But there’s a clinical detachment about the entire process that’s chilling. One scene observes Soriano slumped forward on a bus bench, grimacing from discomfort. Essentially, she’s been dumped on the sidewalk. The deal is done.
“Donor” isn’t really about the harvesting of vital organs. It’s about a society in which women like Lizzy, striving to please their immature, macho mates, become weathered and bitter. Their resiliency is exhausted, their optimism tested by men who wave around pistols and gamble away their hard-earned revenues with fellow miscreants.
Why does Lizzy continue to come home to a louse like Danny? Perhaps she knows nothing else. That’s the tragedy of “Donor.” This isn’t a Cinderella story, and there ain’t no such thing as a Fairy Godmother or Handsome Prince to sweep Lizzy off her tired feet.