The team that brought you the surprise indie hit Colma: The Musical (Reel Asian, 2006) has returned with another raucous and raunchy musical, Fruit Fly. In this go-round, Colma‘s native teen angst has given way to twenty-something malaise – that dark, moody place where life has seemingly left you with nothing but lovers you hate, friends you hardly know and text messages you don’t remember sending.
Fruit Fly follows Bethesda, a Filipino adoptee and performance artist who moves to San Francisco to workshop and perform her show about the search for her birth parents. She finds herself moving into a commune of transient artists who help her navigate the art scene of her new home and quickly accord her the unwanted label of “fag hag.”
Writer/director H.P. Mendoza (who also wrote and starred in Colma) has penned an epic 19-song soundtrack of pandemically catchy synth-pop/electro/house/showtune numbers that take us along Bethesda’s adventures through San Francisco’s public transit, gay clubs, fringe theatres and morning-after regrest. Songs like “Fag Hag,” “We Are the Hag” and “We Have So Much in Common” are sure to bring the house down and make a censor’s ears bleed!
With Fruit Fly, Mendoza has created an assured take on reconstructing oneself with a “work-in-progress” attitude. Meanwhile, director Richard Wong’s colourful cinematography and Mark Del Lima’s animated interludes note the changing cityscape of San Francisco, which has succumbed to all-too-familiar monolithic condominiums – this implies that the city, like Bethesda, is searching for an identity. However, unlike Asian-American movies of a previous generation, the struggle for identity is not unique to ethnicity; it’s a broader search suggesting that our lives, loves and homes are constantly “works-in-progress.”
– Aram Siu Wai Collier