Saturday, May 19, 2012

Every Breath You Take - Into Disparate Paths

After a visit with her obstetrician, Majoy (Angelica Panganiban) realizes that she needs to fast track her romantic proclivities. Her only viable ovary is nearing expiration and needs to fulfill its physiologic raison d’etre. How urgent? “As in now na!” asserts the doctor. That is, if she wanted a child of her own. But sweet and gullible Majoy is hopelessly single. She, in fact, is a virgin who believes that a man out there is meant for her, and he will come with a few serendipitous signs – there would be roses; and rain; there would be bells ringing and angels singing. But Majoy’s only ardent suitor is the exceedingly enthusiastic Ji Soon (Ryan Bang). Unfortunately, Ji Soon doesn’t come with signs. Moreover, the Korean lothario doesn’t captivate her.

One day, she meets Leo (Piolo Pascual). And like a twist of fate, the signs come dashing like a clamorous parade. Leo, a cavalier realtor, is Majoy’s ultimate contradiction. He abhors rules, fawns over no ladies, and scoffs at emotional devoir. He parties hard, but works even harder. But little does Majoy know that her Casanova is a scarred soul who vowed never to be manipulated by the Machiavellian wiles of deceitful women – the way his father (Lito Legaspi) was deserted by his mother who left the family for another man. This doesn’t keep Leo from casual hook ups with frisky girls who couldn’t resist his boyish, devilish charm.

When Majoy sets her sights on Leo, she knew he was the one – and it isn’t beyond her to pursue him. Wouldn’t you if you believed he was “the one”? Wouldn’t you if, more importantly, he looked like Piolo Pascual? Duh! Let’s kick the self preservation bucket out of the window and lasso this abs-riddled gentleman – pronto! Majoy follows him to his gym, befriends his secretary, leaves him pastillas, tracks him to his favorite restaurants; heck, she even answers his secretary’s phone! Unfortunately, getting his attention isn’t as easy as dogging him around. Majoy’s romantic reconnaissance is hampered by several road blocks: Leo is at the brink of a promotion and his rival Mario (Ryan Eigenmann) is pulling all the stops to outdo our protagonist; Leo is being pursued by the relatives of a love-crazy fling Dianne (Wendy Valdez) who wants him standing before the altar beside her – by hook or by crook! Then there’s the salient detail of a familial history of heartbreak. What’s a girl to do?

Angelica Panganiban stars in her first romantic lead, a reliable indicator that a mainstream actor has “arrived”. After all, what is a “bida” who doesn’t fall in and out of love right before the eyes of a thrilled audience? Panganiban’s Majoy is deftly and richly limned into a full character: na├»ve but determined; shy but generous. Though these adjectives dispute each other, thanks to Panganiban’s nuanced interpretation, she makes Majoy fly with utter sincerity and pizzazz. It is hard not to empathize with her – even when (at times) the writing gets too manic.

Angelica enjoys several showcases like when she asks Leo, “Ano ba ang ibig sabihin ng gullible?”- or the scene at the police station when she tries to relay the events at the park with the masked gunman.  

Piolo Pascual effectively pulls out his charm offensive. He reminds us how he once won us as Vince in Joyce Bernal’sDon’t Give Up On Us” (opposite the equally adorable Judy Anne Santos). He is made of masculine beauty that others can only dream of, regardless of his sexual preference. The sad thing is, Leo Dimalanta isn’t as intricately threshed out a character as Majoy’s. In fact, if he shunned women from the get-go, why does he date so many? He went out with loopy Dianne (Wendy Valdez) several times, yet he kept forgetting her name. Surely, you would remember that particularly clingy, obsessive girl, wouldn’t you? Or was he immune to her John Hinckley tendencies? (She threatened to jump off the roof, etc.)  

Ryan Bang plays Majoy’s passionate Korean suitor Ji Soon who wouldn’t give up his love for the willful Majoy who had set her sight on Leo; a proverbial “Mahal Kita, Mahal Mo Siya, Mahal Nya ay Iba” scenario (except that Leo more befittingly loved himself). Bang gets a more than decent screen time, thus he was able to showcase an unexpected knack for comedy. What’s with the Korean “Krung Krung  Syndrome” that has audiences fall for the likes of Sandara Park and, this time, Ryan Bang? Ryan successfully translates his small screen humor with dry wit, a precise comic timing and tongue in cheek delivery that had me laughing in stitches even as I write this. Like when he complained about Smokey Manaloto’s car (“Ang bagal ng kotse mo eh.”) – and then again when he calls the police for help (“Hello, pulis? Punta kayo kay Majoy. May papatay kay Leo!”) The lines don’t even tickle the funny bone when you think about it. It’s Ryan’s delivery that’s spot on. Maybe he got his comic cadence from his turns in “It’s Showtime” and “Banana Split”. Surely, he wasn’t this funny in “PBB Teen Edition”.  

While the first third of the movie is a compelling build up of characters (Majoy especially), the second third sluggishly meanders into contrived theatricals. At its last third, the movie shifts gears and turns into a protracted gag show. It’s easy to see they suddenly wanted a Wenn Deramas-finish. The situations arch over different players: jealous rival Mario (Ryan Eigenmann) chases after the wrong guy (Ketchup Eusebio); Dianne’s father (Manaloto) and her brothers (Carlos Agassi and Joross Gamboa) go berserk and hound Leo to get him to marry their hysterical sister Dianne at gunpoint; Majoy discerns her follies and gets her little heart broken. The uneasy divergent pathways lead into a muddled narrative whole that doesn’t quite sweep us off our feet as a romantic drama nor take us rolling down the floor with laughter. It’s a middling vehicle that has laid the ground work for a particular genre - romance - but inconveniently ended with a different one – comedy!

While this isn’t as bad as the last 6 Wenn Deramas films, Director Mae Czarina Cruz's vehicle isn’t all that good either. It hangs in mid-air acceptability and doesn’t quite land on its feet to provide solid entertainment.

Ryan Bang: Unexpectedly hilarious!

Angelica Panganiban and Piolo Pascual as Majoy and Leo

Angelica Panganiban: Easily shifts from drama to comedy!

Piolo Pascual as Leo

Piolo Pascual

Angelica Panganiban

Wendy Valdez

Ryan Bang and the Krung Krung Syndrome


jelai said...

One word that best describes Angelica Panganiban - VERSATILE.

Cathy Pena said...

@ Jelai:

Angelica is simply brilliant! :)