Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Frolic & Logic-Free Fun in "Won't Last A Day Without You"

Picture her staring beyond the horizon. She lives her days alone – with no one to call as her friend. Most times, she feels displaced wherever she goes. To make matters worse, everything she does fails. But there’s a silver lining on her cloudy horizon: her boyfriend. She dotes on him. And he’s her lone source of happiness. Now tell me, isn’t she pathetic?

That’s the girl in Paul Williams and Roger Nichols’ 1973 song, “I Won’t Last a Day Without You”. But with a melancholic melody, the words suddenly turn romantic. People gush hearing Karen Carpenter sing it. After all, there’s romance and poetry in loneliness, isn’t there? Now fast forward to 2011. Sarah Geronimo plays DJ Heidee dispensing advice for a radio show’s Heartbreak Hotline. When her spirited spiels catch the attention of the public, Heidee aka George becomes an overnight sensation. One day, she receives a call from a heartbroken Melissa (Megan Young) seeking Heidee’s advice about Andrew Escalon (Gerald Anderson), Melissa's boyfriend, who has wandering eyes. After Melissa’s rants, Heidee lambasts Andrew on air and prods Melissa to drop her wayward beau. She did.

But Andrew stages a rebuttal that would: 1. Get Melissa back, 2. Summon a public apology, 3. Put Heidee in her rightful place. Heidee has to help Andrew get Melissa back – or he would lodge a complaint at the KBP to get her suspended. This throws the odd couple together, devising ways to woo Melissa back while Heidee “tutors” Andrew the ABC’s of romancing a girl: be attentive, be sensitive to her needs, bring stuff for her, take her to a romantic place, etc. But the unexpected happens, Melissa and Andrew fall for each other. Jeepers creepers! What to do?

Does Paul Williams and Roger Nichols’girl” even vaguely resemble the famous radio jock Heidee? Maybe… if you’re on lithium or carbamazepene. Otherwise, it’s a bit of a stretch. What I’m driving at is, when you’re titling movies, the title has to be relatable to the story, lest you shall be accused of having the brain of a hydra for connecting dots that were never there in the first place, right?

Sure, Andrew Escalon is stuff straight out of Harlequin novels. He’s good looking and edgy, and admits his mistakes. He seems successful, though someone who fails the nursing board twice couldn’t appropriately be called “smart”. But what kind of man needs a complete stranger to resolve his own predicament? Obviously, it’s someone who can’t pass his board exams on two occasions. LOL

Like most Star Cinema films, the ensemble of performers do well, painting a narrative palette rich with quirky characters who surround our protagonists. Joey de Leon, who plays Sarah’s dad (an aging rocker), I have to say, delights. The screen lights up whenever he’s in a scene.

There is some fun to be had in Heidee and Andrew’s bickerings. But with a hokey premise, director Raz de la Torre’s narrative hangs like an overbearing shadow. Sarah Geronimo and Gerald Anderson work well as a pair. They satisfy the requirements of a dramatic heroine and her romantic consort. But despite Geronimo’s beguiling giggles, we fail to see growth in her emotionality as an actress. Doesn’t heart break enveigle emotional heft? I’ve read another review that points to her “full control over a repertoire of emotions” – I ask what control and which emotions? Sarah tackles her character with dutiful demeanor, but it was merely perfunctory and desultory. Sure, she renders her character with “cuteness”, but cute isn’t a realist’s realm. In the real world, people would merely apologize instead of going the extra mile to do the legwork to court a girl for someone else. Why did she have to set up dinner for Andrew and Melissa again? That wasn't necessary. Wasn’t it enough that she went to Melissa’s house to try to convince the girl of her former beau’s intentions?

Gerald Anderson has fallen into a methodical system that conjures a character not quite dissimilar from his Powie in Jose Javier Reyes’Till My Heartaches End”. If Sarah steals hearts with her giggles, Gerald does so with his intermittent spurts of Visayan: "Hala!", "Grabe ka man gyud uy!", "Sexy ka man diay". Gerald has also learned to be comfortable with his on-screen emotions. He is consistent with characterization. Moreover, he has done away with excessive theatricality abundantly displayed in his teleserye “Budoy”. He is at once captivating and sympathetic. Anderson may just emerge as one of the best actors of his generation. Who would have thought?

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