There’s a discernable formula in the narrative structure of Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s “Mr. & Mrs. Cruz”, the director’s follow-up to the sleeper hit “Kita Kita” starring Alessandra de Rossi and Empoy Marquez. These elements include travelogue, wistful or contemplative scenes of regretful longing, dreamy photography, melancholic theme song and a cyclical ruminative issue that consumes the protagonists.
I was looking forward to watching “Mr. & Mrs. Cruz” and listen to Carl Guevarra and Nicole Omillo’s melancholic song “Istorya” in the context of a story. After all, Alessandra de Rossi and KZ Tandingan’s separate versions of “Two Less Lonely People in the World” were contributory to the enduring impression taken away by the audience as they left the cinema.
Gela (Ryza Cenon) is trying to forgive herself after calling off her wedding, while Raffy (JC Santos) is still grieving after being abandoned by her bride at the altar. The odds of them meeting up are one for cinematic magic, but it fizzles as soon as both of them start prattling endlessly about insignificant topics.
In one scene, Raffy and Gela agree that "patience is a virtue", then they'd laughed like it was the funniest thing since Mayon moved to Naga! They'd drop lines that made my skin crawl, then slap themselves silly with, "Uyyy". They were inexplicably amused with themselves and you wonder why!
These topics hop around randomly like a schizophrenic patient seized by "flight of ideas". I was simply displeased or offended... or both!
This style of storytelling is similar to Richard Linklater's gabfest, the "Before Sunrise" trilogy. These films define their characters by the arguments they make and discussions they present, particularly when they have something significant to say about the state of things. Such was the case of "Tadhana", which was effusively delectable. When Mace (Angelica Panganiban) and Anthony (JM de Guzman) talked about things, they mold their character. We learn more about them. We’re caught up in their constant banter and engagement. They were charming. We wanted to follow their misadventures! In "Mr. & Mrs. Cruz", however, the characters were reduced to vacuous party crashers that ultimately deserved each other. Or not. I didn't care! Come on. Four years after being jilted and you haven’t moved on? You’re still traveling until “maubos ang pera ko”? How hopelessly unstimulating. There’s a better adjective I’d rather use that sounds like “loser”.
|Self Discovery Romcoms|
Aside from the relentless barrage of senseless prattle, there are aggravating scenes that made the film so annoying, not the least of which was having Gela puke - 3 or 4 times – all over Raffy. As if that scene wasn’t enough, Gela then licks and gobbles up her own vomitus while Raffy stares at his roommate with fascination. What part of this scene is vaguely romantic? Sagot! There goes romcom’s descent to despicability.
I vividly remember that lingering feeling last year after having watched Jason Paul Laxamana’s “100 Tula Para Kay Stella”. The comparison with "Mr. & Mrs. Cruz" is telling. Although “Tula” was more coming-of-age drama than romcom, Stella’s story left you languishing in a certain state of unbridled sadness; one that you wanted to embrace. In “Mr. & Mrs. Cruz”, however, this left me in a state of repulsion.