But all’s not well on the horizon. The Polo Club, their favorite hangout, was bought by Bernice (Mylene Dizon), a former club cashier who got hitched to a billionaire. Bernice plans to turn the club into a Yaya Mall. The girls are appalled. After all, they couldn't fraternize with the masa. What becomes of their memories? More importantly, what happens to the employees of the club, some of whom have worked there half their lives. Lizzie turns to her dad for help, but he wouldn't budge so she takes matters into her hand. She organizes a picket to protest against the plan of the new owner. This gets them arrested for their stunt.
As punishment, Lizzie is sent to the remote town of Sapang Bato to join her lola (Nova Villa) and cousin Becca (Barbie Forteza). But provincial life is far removed from Lizzie’s cosmopolitan lifestyle. There are no clubs, no internet or wifi, and phone signal is intermittent, she had to climb a tree to secure one. Lizzie invites her friends to help get over the tedium of rural living, but they end up fighting with each other. What’s worse, Lizzie becomes a big burden, financial and otherwise, to her well meaning grandmother (her lola’s sister) and cousin.
Back in the city, Danielle starts to deal with her own financial troubles the only way she can. So she devises ways to hook up with Inaki Montinola (Alden Richards) whose fortune is legendary. With the help of Santi (Mikael Daez), a stranger he met at a party, she invites Inaki for dinner. Will she get an audience with the eligible bachelor? Would Inaki show up? Meanwhile, Margaux and Claudia are fighting over Benjo (Aljur Abrenica), the club’s good looking stable boy-cum-waiter who seems oblivious to the girls’ constant flirting. With their internal strife piling up, the fall of the Polo Club seems inevitable… or is it?
Andoy Ranay’s “Sosy Problems” is riddled with loopholes, you start to wonder if there were cognitive beings driving this cinematic vehicle. Aside from the threadbare plot, the motives of the characters are dubious. If these people truly had a plethora of riches, they had several options in the drawing room: 1. Hire a lawyer to negotiate their demands, not that they have proprietary say on a privately owned property; 2. Pool their resources and gather their amigas to buy the property from the new owner; 3. Take to the media by bombarding the public with articles about the poor employees; 4. Purchase another property and equip it with even better facilities. Planking at the facade is as ridiculous as the thought of someone purchasing the playground of the rich and famous. Besides, who did Bernice marry – the Prince of Brunei?
While on sabbatical at the province, Lizzie’s lola had to “steal” from her other granddaughter’s piggy bank because they were low on resources to support Lizzie’s whims. Didn't Lizzie’s dad (Johnny Revilla), a successful hotelier, send enough money to finance her daughter’s stay in the province? The lola could have easily asked from Lizzie’s dad and, surely, he wouldn't mind sending a few thousands of pesos. A lola stealing from her granddaughter is a grave mistake, even if this were meant for good intentions. Stealing is 8th of the Ten Commandments, remember? This narrative strain is ill advised and reminds me of Sef Cadayona’s sexual assault in Emmanuel dela Cruz’s disputable “Slumber Party” where “rape” is horrendously treated with easy humor. We've never heard of grandmothers acting like juveniles since Australia’s Oscar-nominated “Animal Kingdom”. This isn't Oscar-worthy.
The movie is, however, made bearable by the delectable turn of its lead stars portraying some of the most self-absorbed characters in local cinema. Rhian Ramos hams it up and shows why this role was written for her. She is brilliant and playful as bratty Lizzie. Think Alicia Silverstone's "Cher". Though humor in the film is a hit-and-miss affair, many of the gags involving our four ladies actually work. Enthusiasm is such an infectious malady.
Take the “pilapil” (dike) scene: the girls wanted to visit the "pilapil” because someone told them it’s beautiful out there. Without an inkling of idea what a “pilapil” is, they march through dikes with high heels, wide brimmed hats and designer bags thinking they were heading into some kind of Shangrila when, in fact, they've reached their destination many times over. This really cracked me up. Another favorite scene was when the girls found a pot of mud they all thought was a facial regimen. They started rubbing mud all over their faces while Claudia assures her friends with, “Don’t panic; it’s organic.” On the other hand, Bianca King’s part was the most sympathetic. Her story was better told than the rest. And King came out less of a caricature.
Mikael Daez registers strongly as the mysterious Santi, you couldn’t take your eyes off him. He was charming and he spoke well. Aljur Abrenica is a fetching Benjo, the club’s all-around boy, but then he isn't made to do much. There are cameos by Ruffa Gutierrez who plays the role of a lifestyle broadcast executive who wants to run a story about the girls. Tim Yap plays a bigger part (than previous movie roles) as Ruffa's lifestyle reporter.
The film actually stumbles hard as it scrambles into its finish line. Story telling turned reckless and banked on fast resolutions. The positive comeuppance felt undeserved because there were untold chapters that needed more narrative discourse. Elsewhere, the grapevine has tongues wagging: Ranay, the film’s director started acting flaky (think Angelina Kanapi) because his boyfriend left him. Sometime November, the still unfinished product was directorless. Grief has a way of skewing priorities, I know, but isn't Ranay a veteran theater habitue? You’d expect the demeanor of a stage professional, right? This was why Joyce Bernal was allegedly taken into the fold to finish the unfinished and do her editing magic. If this is true, then someone clearly doesn't deserve to work in the business again. Work is work. Oscar Wilde once said, “There’s always something ridiculous about the emotions of people whom one has ceased to love.” With grief, people do ridiculous things. Unfortunately, he didn't suffer alone.
|Aljur Abrenica. This photo only courtesy of http://raindeocampo.files.wordpress.com|
|Mikael Daez is Santi aka Santiago Elizalde, lawyer and son of an influential scion.|