Saturday, February 18, 2012

Unofficially Yours - Quandaries of Falling in Love

After an anonymous sexual rendezvous at the beach, a couple fortuitously meets again as work colleagues in a newspaper company. Cess (Angel Locsin) is a zealous writer for her paper’s lifestyle section. Macky (John Lloyd Cruz) is a dentist who’s pursuing a different career trajectory – he wants to become a writer. As fate would have it, Macky becomes Cess’ writing protégé! Unfortunately, the dismissive Cess makes it clear their concupiscent rendezvous was nothing but an uncomplicated lay in the hay, strictly with no strings attached. Macky is disconsolate because he wants more from her. In fact, he couldn’t get Cess off his mind since the day she surreptitiously left without a word.

Though work constantly throws them in each others’ company, it becomes clear that their attraction wasn’t a fleeting circumstance. And they continuously end up sharing their beds, in a frivolously and savagely passionate affair. “Malabo ba yung tayo?” Cess would ask Macky, just to underline the noncommittal state of their relationship. What’s a guy do if all a girl wants is his sexual stamina? Would he deny her sexual advances? And why is she being emotionally elusive?

Director Cathy Garcia-Molina goes for the romantic jugular to weave the tale of Macky and Cess caught in the quagmire of their romantic past. It becomes a dilemma when physical coupling spills on their agreed emotional boundaries. And the only other way from there is to commit, something that Cess isn't willing to do. We later learn the reason behind her apprehensions; turned out it was a valid excuse to get twice shy about a commitment.


John Lloyd Cruz and Angel Locsin candidly depict what could have been prosaic characters running on hackneyed plot, but their kinship has evolved into a cinematic partnership that translates into something akin to magic - on screen. It's such a sedulous connection; this credibility never wavers despite the peppering of a multitude of contrivances designed to concoct a brew not dissimilar to "My Cactus Heart". Wasn't the latter also about a commitment-shy heroine?

Cruz and Locsin scorch the screen as they parry the blows of an impending emotional avalanche; one that they'd have to directly face - sooner or later. Locsin has transformed into a very confident actress. Her wanton disregard of vanity is contributory to this, thus she's able to plummet into unflattering expressions that would seem silly on other less insightful actresses. These made her more captivating. But then, that's easy when you're an exceptional beauty, isn't it? :)


The rest of the charming cast provides more than adequate distractions complementary to the protagonists' story. Tetchie Agbayani, playing Angel's eternally hopeful mother, is particularly winsome. Her scene with Angel at the kitchen was memorable. Cess asked her mom: "Ba't parang di ka nagsasawang masaktan?" She replied: "Hindi lang ako napapagod magmahal. Pwede naman akong magpahinga sandali. Kung hindi, paano ko makikilala kung meron mang nakalaang magmamahal ng tunay?" These lines could have easily turned mawkish; instead, they were breezy, but nonetheless decisive and sincere. Her sentiment warrants attention - and introspection.


The film also has obvious careless (and imagined) details that needed remedial measures: Journalists fumbling around the frenzied press room in 3-inch heels? Seriously? Ouch! Then there's the oversight about Macky's Dental Education - where? University of Santo Tomas! While it was indeed established in 1904, it has since been abolished. The last dental graduates have probably set sail with Limahong to rediscover the Spice Island. Where then did Macky finish his dental education? Then there's the on-the-job "writing" tutorial. Such active coaching really occurs in a hectic work place like the Manila Bulletin? Kinda like medical interns and clerks "training" in hospitals? Highly unlikely. No wonder no one reads them :) Oops!

Once a newspaper takes you in, you've already developed a style; the same style responsible for getting you "in". No one's there to laboriously teach you technique! The mechanics of an interview isn't learned in the press room, that's for sure! But these are quibbles easy to disregard, simply because the story becomes real; it comes alive right before our eyes.


Now that I've mentioned Cruz's thespic gifts, let me zero in on a few minor distractions. John Lloyd Cruz should start doing something about his unsightly bulges soon! He has "man boobs" (as well as a distended and flabby abdomen) and he isn't even 30 yet! It's unbecoming to be a romantic lead and have Sharon Cuneta's lipid excrescences. Has he given birth? What's his excuse for his pudginess? Romantic leads should fulfill a certain physical criteria because it's part of his trade to look physically fit! Furthermore, seeing him walk around sockless is cringe-worthy! Sooner or later, this unhygienic habit becomes an olfactory nightmare.


Finally, Garcia-Molina has mastered the art of romantic bedazzlement. She relishes her narrative condiment with giggle-worthy lines (On not falling in love: "Huwag kang mag alala, di kita pipilitin!"); quirky characters (Macky's roommates, Macky's exceedingly healthy family, Cess' nosy workmates) and songs that make your heart flutter (Janno Gibbs' "Binibini", VST & Company's "Ikaw Ang Aking Mahal", Eric Santos & Angeline Quinto's "If You Asked Me To"). Sometime before the story folds, a musical duet ensues - complete with doo-wopping back-up singers. Now, that's unabashed romanticizing! Heck, even the third wheel, Vincent Villegas (played by the radiant Patrick Garcia) is swoon worthy!

I tried not to swoon. But I couldn't help myself smile!


sineasta said...

journ 'ata siya sa uste, but he transferred to ceu to take dentistry because he ex took it, as well.

i felt that the internship thing was also not right. but this is the movies! everything is possible! haha.

jlc is the anti-thesis of the typical leading man. i think that he stop trying to look like everyone else. he goes for the charm more than the physical look. it works though! he's the epitome of every ordinary juan in town. but later on, yeah, it'll catch up to him. screen wise, i mean.

Cathy Pena said...

@ jheck:

Hmmm. I didn't get that part about CEU. What I got was that line: "Ako nag UST,s'ya nag UP Diliman." Maybe I coughed and missed the rest? :)

JLL's emerging bulges can't be a concerted effort to "look like every one else". "Laziness" is more like it. JLL will never be the "every man" because he is exceedingly guapo, his facial attributes almost feminine. Sayang because he is one of his generation's best actors. Soon, his "galing" won't suffice.

sineasta said...

yeah, you've missed the ceu dialogue. hehe.

jlc wasn't really much into going to the gym. in fact, he was baduy and had thinning hair until liz uy came along. that was the time when he started (or was told) to groom himself up. suddenly, everyone took a second look at him. when they both went to splitville, jlc went to his old ways. besides, he drinks a lot...

btw, did you not see Id'Nal? i was waiting for your review of that film. hehe.

Cathy Pena said...

@ jheck:

Sounds like an insider's information. :) I have been hearing a lot about JLC's bothersome predilection for alcohol. As I said before, sayang if he doesn't get off the habit.

That's odd re: I'dNal. Do you know that you're probably the 6th soul to ask about it? Yes, I've seen it - twice! Twice, because the first time seemed like there was a big chunk of the narrative puzzle I missed. It turns out there was none. :) I've been meaning to write about it since its commercial screening two-three weeks or so ago, but I kept putting it off. But it's finally on queue after "Unofficially Yours". I'll post it early Tuesday morning. :)

Armand DC said...


Cathy Pena said...

@ Armand DC:

Isn't that the gist of our earlier correspondence - thus shaking hands for a crosslink? :)