As a satire on the softcore sex film industry in the Philippines, “Larger Than Life” wants to have its cake and eat it, too. The film wallows in its erotic scenes while purporting to be shocked at the way commercial filmmakers exploit their characters. This may be a winning formula in Manila, but it won’t cut it internationally.
Some film company execs decide to exploit a sensational newspaper story in which a man was convicted for raping both his daughter and his granddaughter. The director and screenwriter journey to the village to interview the victims. Their story, filmed in relatively sober style, is contrasted with florid scenes from the completed film, titled “Lust for Flesh,” which the shocked women see at a public preview some months later. Bearing little resemblance to what actually happened, this film-within-a-film is supposedly an indictment of the local film industry. However, Jeffrey Jeturian’s indignation comes across as shallow, exploitative and tawdry. Curiously, in the copy screened at Venice, the film’s original title is translated as “In Persona,” while “Larger Than Life” is the title used for the press book.