If it seems like Angelica Panganiban's high wire act in this flick is analogous to being in a great movie, let's thank the heavens and attribute this to brilliance and insightful performance. In fact, this fantastic actress admits to finding her role easy. Opps! Slip of the tongue? She did say that in an interview.
To be fair, there are situations in the story of Maryo J. delos Reyes' "The Unmarried Wife" that's cunningly relatable. In fact, I texted a friend who reminded me of the protagonist's marital dilemma. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Ann Victorio (Angelica Panganiban) is a fairly successful advertising director of a "morally upright" firm whose battlecry is the rather hypocritical "We take care of families". She's just been promoted so Ann tries to spend her time proving it was her boss' best decision since mankind discovered Skype and viber. But let me backtrack a bit.
Geoff (Dingdong Dantes) met relationship-weary Ann over coffee. Her mother's a screwed up floozy (Irma Adlawan) who has affinity to bad boys and boytoys so most of Ann's growing up years were spent convincing herself she wouldn't end up like her mother. She was ready to brush off romance until Geoff offered her free coffee. After a zippy courtship, Ann falls for the handsome rascal - and they find themselves in a blissful marriage. A son follows thereafter.
Unfortunately, not all fairy tale romances end up with princesses riding into the sunset. Real life happens and we eventually make choices too far removed from lollipops, roses and cotton candy dreams. The busier Ann gets, the more sexually frustrated Geoff becomes - so he finds a way to remedy his needs. But Ann catches him in flagrante delicto. Trouble in paradise. What did you expect?
As if that weren't enough, Geoff does it again just when Ann was softening up her resolve. For awhile, I was enjoying Ann and the mistress' (Maricar Reyes) heated exchange at a cafe. That could be the highlight of this film. But not quite. Angelica really takes command all throughout.
Ann reminds Cristina (Reyes), "Nuknukan ka ng tanga at utu uto." The exchange was too delectable I was ready to see Amor Powers join the fray. She reasons why she wonn't even dare slap the lovely chef,"Ayokong madumihan ang kamay ko. Wala akong dalang panlinis." At this point, I was ready to tap my stilettos and cry, "Bravo!" Cristina was of course bragging about her "bedside manners" but no need to convince us, Maricar. We have "seen" exactly what you're capable of doing. Tee hee.
Ann eventually meets laidback guapito Bryan (Paulo Avelino) who refuses to talk about his own failed relationship. While others try to seek catharsis through a talkfest, our flawless Romeo just wants to love Ann - and be her knight in shining armor. But something's not quite right somehow.
What becomes of Ann's marriage? Will Bryan give her a new lease on love?
The answers are Facebook status-worthy. Yup, they're complicated. In this rigodon of couplings, a demented lady suddenly emerges from nowhere - Louise (Denise Laurel) who breathes, scratches and screeches like a scorned dragoness. While I realize that this was designed as the story's excuse from predictable triteness, the narrative strain seemed too abrupt and flimsily written. In fact, Louise was unadulterated caricature. She even changes her mind as briskly as shooting stars blaze the sky.
It is rather hard to sympathize with Dingdong's character, to be honest. This is a father and husband who would rather hump on his working day. Come on. Sex is pleasurable but in the real world, there is a time for canoodling and a time to earn your keep.
So while his wife is busy, there's a slew of productive activities to be had, not the least of which is putting his big hands to good use. Like playiing his organ? Or his piano? Or ukelele. Tee hee. Dingdong Dantes is more than competent, and even intermittently compelling, but his character is rather pre-ordained like a total jerk. When he finally declares that he will wait for "forever", I couldn't help but think, until the next itch comes along? Besides, calamine lotion is cheap noh. Go buy yourself a barrel.
Paulo Avelino's character seems like an afterthought, written like a narrative device used to shift plots. In fact, he only appears 38 minutes into the movie, then disappears again. He resurfaces a good 73 minutes later to fulfill his third wheel duties. Of course I don't mind seeing more of his gorgeous face, but his character could have been fuller.
This takes me back to Angelica Panganiban who transforms a cinematic circus act into a legitimate heroine worth rooting for. For this alone, she validates what could otherwise turn into a mawkish urban melodrama. She is cinematic magic personified.
LINES THAT MAKE YOU GO...
If you love funny, silly, insightful, memorable or just plain droll cinematic lines, there's a cadre of them here. Parloristas and gay beauty contestants, take note!
Angelica to Dingdong: "Huwag mo akong gawing parausan kasi mawawalan ng silbi ang kabit mo!" Fierce, right? Which husband would want to shag someone as briery?
Dimples to Angelica re:annulment - "Baka hindi kumampi sa yo ang batas at ang mundo." International crime of arbitration?
Angelica to Denise (when the former was accused of breaking up an already broken marriage) : "Hinihingi ko ang isang bagay na kailanman hindi hiningi ng mga kabit ng asawa ko." Sniff! Sniff!
Bing Pimentel to Angelica (talking as a new employer): "I firmly believe that we are more than our mistake!" Miss Universe Q&A ?
Finally, Martin Escudero delivers his indellible contribution: "Ginagawa nyo kaming mga emotional punching bag para sa mga hanash n'yo sa buhay."
If only for these quotes alone, you ought to bring your pompoms to your nearest cinema and get ready to cheer! Go!
Read our featured post on Cinema Bravo and why we sometimes hate Web Criticism:
#unmarriedwife #angelicapanganiban #dingdongdantes #pauloavelino #maricarreyes