Mendoza’s latest film “Sisid,” starring Paolo Gumabao, Vince Rillon and former Miss International Kylie Verzosa for Vivamax, is no different.

While we were a little underwhelmed by the way the storytelling wraps up its coruscating progression, it’s nonetheless refreshing to see a boy’s love (BL) tale attempting to go beyond the kwela but derivative route, managing to infuse some pertinent insights into the mining scourge wreaking havoc on the country’s marine life and the environment.

True, the movie has steamy moments between Vince and Paolo, but it doesn’t just sell the sizzle more than the steak. The lushly photographed film, courtesy of cinematographer Freidric Macapagal Cortez, captures the pristine beauty of Pola in Oriental Mindoro and its rich marine life, even as it underscores the very real dangers of man-made efforts solely aimed at profiting from it.

Making “Sisid” even more personal and intimate is the percolating sexual tension that quickly develops between its male lead characters, marine biologist Jason (Paolo) and his diving assistant Dennis (Vince). It soon drives a wedge between the men and their loved ones—who are forced to face the repercussions of their budding romance. But unlike recent exploitative films, “Sisid” dares to go beyond crass titillation.

Jason, with his cancer-stricken wife Abby (Kylie, who’s now taking on meatier roles in every new project assigned to her) in tow, goes to Pola to help assess, rehabilitate and preserve a fish sanctuary in one of the municipality’s 23 barangays called Tagumpay. Soon, however, Jason is drawn to the sensitive young man who is eager to share more than just fish tales and back rubs with him.

Jason has to come to terms with the impending death of his matchmaking sick wife, who wants their friend Blessie (pretty Mayton Eugenio, who deserves bigger, better roles) to look after him after she succumbs to cervical cancer.

Meanwhile, Dennis finds himself in a pickle when he gets his needy girlfriend Tanya (Christine Bermas) pregnant. But their personal woes only bring Jason and Dennis closer to each other, venting their frustrations by unraveling unexpected carnal desires.

Directed By: Brillante Mendoza
Stars: Paolo Gumabao, Vince Rillon, Kylie Verzosa, Christine Bermas, Irma Adlawan