The crisis of a Sarah G/John Lloyd film (10Apr13)
Posted 11 April 2013 - 02:32 AM
Published on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 18:55 Written by Tito Genova Valiente / firstname.lastname@example.org
Jay Salvosa has fallen in love with the tandem of Sarah G. and John Lloyd. I am amazed but being a fan of this young writer who is able to deconstruct an ancient Bicol epic and turn it into a dazzlingly demented commentary on pop culture and the SM-nization of this nation, not to mention a post-colonial discourse, I rushed to the nearest cinema to catch the film that bears the awkward title It Takes a Man and a Woman.
Always when a film is able to turn its simplistic and fun nature into a kind of mystery, the label “cult movie” springs up—not a surprise—into attention. And we become attentive.
This is the crisis of this film which has a love team that, for some reason, salves its chemistry in the odd pairing of an actor and an actress not quite into each other. Look again, and you find no realism in which John Lloyd Cruz and Sarah Geronimo act out their characters. Perhaps, it is in that phrase “acting out” that we find the crisis of their coming together.
The two are always acting out. We know that and they let us know that. In the case of John Lloyd, the performance is always caught in those glances that appear like asides. His eyes are always commenting about the turn of events. It is a self-consciousness that only real fans (meaning “devoted” and fitted with fan blinders) can love. That self-consciousness, or the act that says, “Hey, look at me, I’m cute,” is all over the film. It is as if the character is creating pastel meadows on which fans could write their devotions and supplications.
And so we find him in a situation where he plays up his cuteness. When he cries, because in the story something tragic has taken place, the drama is withdrawn from the roots of real pains. Who needs pains and grimaces? The fans do not want John Lloyd Cruz and his character to really suffer. The film does not allow real sadness because in the end there will be ersatz happiness.
The story is plain enough. All love stories have really plain plots. Mother Nature wills it so for the love itself is the complication. Indeed why complicate the already complicated? But why not also? Why not complicate the narrative? Where am I coming from when I say this? Ex cathedra? I’m not sure. What I’m certain of, though, is that It Takes a Man and a Woman is threatening to be more than a trilogy of discourses about men and women falling in love when the situation does not warrant them to be so. Against all odds, as we say.
That is what I am interested in: Why the clamor for this kind of love...er, storytelling?
The story being plain pushes the filmmakers to create a universe that would not only be fresh but new. Explored always as a place for glamour, the publishing industry seduces people into believing that slingbacks and mudslinging are two sides to the same sophisticated coin of fashion. So here we are in this publishing house where men talk like women high on being aggressors and women hiss like serpents on the take. There seems to be no moral code in this terrain except when one is pitching projects and proposing acquisitions. Despite the dangerous terrain, things look fun and cozy.
The filmmaker creates such a tentative world of light tensions that when the engagement ring is not accepted and the erring couple is caught in a wayward kiss, our passion and our belief are also at best tentative and temporary.
But Jay Salvosa, certified intellectual and raging poet, says, “Mababaw lang ako, Sir”, in that fashionably relevant way of self-effacement. And then again, are those words for me? Is he telling me to hang loose and just “enjoy the film?”
Thus, I go back to the film. I, in fact, watch the film for the second time. Would it be lovelier this time, as in that song, “just as wonderful, with both feet on the ground.”
Believe me, I love stories as I love songs in all their mushiness and relentless sentimentality.
What could save this film? What could bring the filmmakers to be forgiven for wasting time and money on a project that will not provide food on the table for the many in this hungry land? On what ground can judgment be withheld for this film that once more makes fools of realities?
Realism is not the ground on which tread directors of romance and love—that much we know. In the end, we wonder what church, what denominations, what kind of priest would allow a bride to pontificate and rant right in front of the altar. In the end, we are appalled at the lack of grace in that ending.
In the end, however, I must confess that I grimaced but I also grinned at some parts of the film.
In the end, two performers save the film.
First, there is Sarah Geronimo. Like her singing, Geronimo is a cover artist. She covers performances. She is a good mimic. She is even allowed to affect an accent and she does it by mimicry. It is a talent that is all over her vocal skills. And she is really good with that English. Is this reason why fans lap up the scenes that has her speaking out and outdistancing the sophistication of the character of Cruz? Is this the revenge of the common man/woman? Is this the victory of Laida Magtalas?
If these are the only achievements of Sarah Geronimo, this essay is a waste of time. There are gems in her performance as Laida. Note the “moments” when the camera catches her in doubt. See her hurting with a slightest twitch of lips. Those subtleties, not expected by this writer, is good news. This girl knows how to act before a camera.
There is another actress discovered in this film: Isabel Daza. Beautiful and stunning, her Belle creates a refreshing look into the other woman, the other girlfriend really. Her furtive glances and her quiet movements herald the arrival of an actress who, without being a virago, may steal a man and threaten the leading lady because her otherness is good. This should make the conflicts in romantic outings in the future more in the realistic mode, we are encouraged to advise her. Which is more than we could bargain for in narratives that seem to belong to the clouds than to this naturally bitter and sweet earth.
The film is directed by Cathy Garcia Molina. Like our anticipation of a gritty Laida in the future, we look to this filmmaker for films that will not only please our heart but also threaten it with afflictions that are natural to our propensity as real, feeling people. Viva Films and Star Cinema are the producers of this film that, according to press releases, has grossed in a few days more than P200 million. This amount has nothing to do with this review. The millions of pesos remind me of what Pauline Kael used to say: “It seems to me that the critic’s task should be to help people see more in the work than they might see without him. That’s a modest function, and you don’t need a big theory for it.”
Posted 11 April 2013 - 10:52 AM
Posted 11 April 2013 - 02:45 PM
lakas talaga maka good vibes ang good & nice reviews ni mr. nestor torre, parang nahugutan ako ng tinik sa mga sinabi nya about sarah's acting ability!
thanks for everything!
Posted 11 April 2013 - 04:57 PM
Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:18 PM
kaloka..didn't know na may essay writing contest pala for ITAMAAW mas na aapreciate ko pa tuloy si Nestor Torre wahaha..sa hinaba-haba nito..isa lang ang punto..nagalingan siya kay Sarah..just didn't agree with the whole mimic thingy..infer sa kanya nanood siya twice hehe..tnx agen O for sharing
Saan po ang link nung review ni Mr Torre? Thanks and God bless!
Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:22 PM
Tito Genova Valiente is the chairman of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino ( GAWAD URIAN ).
Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino? Sana Tagalog na lang ang ginamit. Nosebleed. Pati mata ko lumuha ng dugo. Pero salamat po sa magandang review. Mukha naman, di ba?
"This girl knows how to act before a camera."
God bless po!
Posted 11 April 2013 - 08:00 PM
Posted 13 April 2013 - 04:03 PM
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