Two words - Bea Alonzo.
In a film that's questionably rated A by a group of bumbling idiots, there is no denying the palpable intensity of this virtual force of nature. She limns her character in several dimensions, it felt like watching the latest stereoscopic technology. "Sa Yo Lamang - 3D" where the sole three-dimensional character was a girl named Dianne (Bea Alonzo). She's petulant of her father Franco's (Christopher de Leon) return. He abandoned them 10 years ago. Since then, Dianne has abandoned her own dreams, and has shouldered the family's financial needs.
Ten years is a long time to not move on. Human emotion learns with time, and hurtful things are eventually dulled by the resilience of the human soul. So how can Christopher's character impose his presence on a family of 4 growing kids he once nullified in favor of a mistress? This logic escapes me. Then, when his mistress calls for a prenatal check up, he flies off without even offering an excuse for his absence. Wasn't he just "accepted"? Not a darn squeak. Is this a documentation about ungrateful cads? Upon his return, he finds his children in a fisticuff. But proving the great father that he is, he halts this by punching one of his sons instead? What gives? Talk about Fathering and how not to be one.
This film teaches the wrong values. If this was a slice of the Modern Filipino Family, we are in deep shit! No, I would never find inspiration in this movie, the way one online reviewer suggested.
The family in question is far from being a cross-section of a typical Pinoy family, and please, let's not get up our seats and hail this visionary work as something we could ponder upon. Dianne is the sole character we understand; her motivations are quite lucid to us, thanks to Alonzo's masterful and earnest performance. Coco Martin, as rebellious Coby, is largely misdirected, like he grew up from a different family. He was loud, but shallow, and I thought he learned a thing or two from his indie experiences. Less is more, even in emotionally flagrant melodramas like this one. See how teleseryes can distract a natural actor? Enchong Dy plays the obedient James, an honor student who was caught buying stolen test papers. Enchong cuts a dashing screen character, like the boyish next door neighbor you'd wanna spy on. And he is intuitive in ways Piolo Pascual was, before Piolo finally settled into nothing but an overrated actor. Christopher de Leon, we miss him. He used to be the penultimate actor, but he has caricatured himself into someone who's superficially intense, but you know that it's all generic theatrics. That what is on screen is an actor who goes home at the end of the day as the celebrity that Mr. De Leon is. That is sad.
Lorna Tolentino underplays her role as Amanda Alvero, the family's suffering matriarch. She is a great actress and nothing in the movie deviates from this acknowledged idea, except that at times, I get distracted by a seemingly over-botoxed forehead that "appears too taut, too ironed and too hard". She has this eerie, waxwork look from mid-cheeks up to her forehead.
RENDERING THE EMOTIONS PARALYZED
You see, an actress' tool for expressing an emotion is her face. But when your muscles of expression are rendered frozen, how would an actress convey her feelings? Here's a literature I've read about the topic: "The muscles of the forehead help to form facial expressions. There are four basic motions, which can occur individually or in combination to form different expressions. The Occipitofrontalis muscles can raise the eyebrows, either together or singly, forming expressions of surprise and quizzicality. The corrugator supercilii muscles can pull the eyebrows inwards and down, forming a frown. The Procerus muscles can pull down the centre portions of the eyebrows." All these important capabilities are rendered paralyzed by an over-indulgent botox customer. Sadly, Ms. Tolentino's forehead looked steel-hard, the only portion moving is the hairline, even the raising of the eyebrow is disturbed. Check the scene where she prays and cries her heart away.
My friend Iya whispered about how Bea allegedly underwent breast augmentation during the shooting (go search at twitterworld for the loud whispers about this bout of vanity). I was just surprised. (Referenced to Bea's break-up scene with Zanjoe.) What for? Does an actress as beautiful as Bea, as sensitive as Bea, as luminous a star as Bea, really need bumpers the size of Sofia Lee's? She must be hatching a backup plan of dancing in Pegasus if or when her career plummets down Kristine Hermosa's level. Heaven forbid! We truly need great actresses even in mainstream limbo.