Sunday, May 9, 2010

Fairytale Romance in You To Me Are Everything

Yes, Taylor Swift, it is a fairy tale!

In Mark Reyes’ “You To Me Are Everything” (YTMAE), reality takes a back seat to give way to a rom-com yarn designed to showcase a popular loveteam. The think tanks from GMA conjured a cauldron filled with clichés.

This is the modern Cinderella story of an Igorot lass Iska (what a name! – played by Marian Rivera) who is bequeathed a sizable fortune (try P100 million) from her estranged father. As a consequence, she has to uproot her comfortable existence from the mountains of Benguet in order to honor the memory and will of her departed father. Meanwhile, cocksure Rafael (Dingdong Dantes) suddenly finds himself stripped of material wealth when his Congressman-father is suddenly convicted of corruption, and all of their assets have been sequestered. High society’s golden boy finds himself grasping for straws! With dad in prison, Rafael finds himself in a spare apartment that doesn’t even have its own electricity. One drunken night, he ends up at Iska’s room – the same house he vacated! Sparks fly - and he lands a convenient deal to become fairy godfather to the nouveau riche, albeit clueless Igorota beauty! Rafael Inigo Benitez III becomes Iska’s financial consultant cum fashion guru! Will romance find its way into Iska and Rafael’s hearts?

We were never a fan of director Mark Reyes. In fact, in our book, Director Reyes leads GMA 7’s stable of film directors who continuously churn out mediocre works. They have some of the best visual artists who produce eye candy music videos and fan-pleasing television shows, but they’re also among the country’s most mediocre film artists! Consider the following films and try not to wince: “I.T.A.L.Y. (I Trust and Love You)”, “Eternity”, “My Best Friend’s Girlfriend”, the gag-worthy “Angel of Love” segment of Angel Locsin-produced “Angels” (with Jennylyn Mercado and Patrick Garcia). I can go on and on but the easy denominator would be the amateurish awkwardness of this lackluster, logic-challenged body of work.

BUT – “You To Me Are Everything” is surprisingly decent. The giggly-manipulations work pretty well with the audience, buoyed by the refreshing allure and spirited spunk of Marian Rivera who makes a lovely fish out of water! I do not follow most of Rivera’s TV works. In fact, I find her rather jejomonish in her public discourses. For the most part, this turns off her audience. Not the least of which are those prima donna antics that intermittently mushroom from whispery grapevines. To be honest, Marian was particularly compelling in “Nieves: The Engkanto Slayer” (Shake, Rattle & Roll X). And in YTMAE, she is great as the good-natured Francisca Carantes aka Iska! She carries the film’s featherweight moments with on-spot candor and charm! In fact, those kilig-fueled scenes with Ding Dong (“Hindi ako marunong humalik!) are golden cinematic moments of romantic bliss! Naturally charming, perfectly choreographed! Made me blush!

As was stated early on, the premise is pretty fantastical, and some of the situations defy common sense. If you find a stranger in your room, would you really allow him to sleep over – even share those intimacies while he is heavily inebriated? You would, if you’re stupid. If you finally get to confirm that your consort is indeed after your P25 million more than your heart, and even overhear his callous phone conversations (“Di ako matitiis nun, in love yun sa akin eh.”), would you still invite him home to meet your family? Once again, only an idiot would! Even some lines are as mechanically cheesy as those age-old melodramas: To me, you’re just a fat juicy cockroach that I’m going to step on! Move over, Cherie Gil!

The supporting cast is curiously bad. Most rom-coms would be littered with indubitable supports to give their reed-thin storylines adequate flesh! ”You To Me…” does the opposite! Fabio Ide, for example, (as Rafael’s friend Miko) does awkwardly. So do the “evil stepsisters” acutely wanting of the crucial gravitas to pull off as memorable contravidas! They essayed nothing more than elementary pursuits, I was tempted to buy them rotten tomaties! They would have acquired a more interesting screen presence with tomatoes sliding down their moribund articulation!

Production design is above par, and employing the perfect place (Sitio Cayoco of Itogon looked serene and heavenly) help depict a fairytale atmosphere. Unobtrusive music score helped the light treatment of the narrative. They even used “Ngiti” which was sung as a duet by Ronnie Liang and Francheska Farr. I wonder if Liang has crossed the other side.

To my mind, this would be GMA Films’ first “better” rom-com in years! And Mark Reyes finally learns a thing or two about movie making! Of course, this is not to say that "You To Me Are Everything" is a superior film. Mainstream film productions have long stopped being ambitious. But there's not a lot of pretensions either. They have learned to coast on what's easy, simple, and doesn't require a lot of brain activity!

Iska and Snowy

Itogon, Benguet


Anonymous said...

Great blog. Now I want to watch this film--a fair-skinned noveau riche Igorota named Iska? I'd love to see how THAT was pulled off.

Your new reader,

Cathy said...

Hi Edgar, That's why its a sweeping fairy tale - the heroine has to be a fair-skinned hispanic beauty who is proudly Psychology. LOL

Great blogsite too, and I'm not just being polite! Tried leaving a comment twice but I am not sure it got through.

Anonymous said...

"Starring PSYCHOLOGY"--how many films can claim THAT? :-)

Thanks Cathy. Your comment was filed as spam, for some reason, but it's up now. Will be waiting for your next post!