Waiting for 'A Second Chance': 5 PH romantic movies showing love's downs as well as ups
MANILA, Philippines – Cathy Garcia-Molina’s One More Chance (2007) is a fine film. There is no doubt about that. By focusing on the emotions that accompany the decline of a romantic relationship rather than the heights, the film managed to expand the emotional spectrum of the genre. (READ: ‘A Second Chance’ Review: Ode to stubborn love)
It paved the way for film producers to evolve futher from the traditional concept of jovial escapism via happy endings. It ventured into cashing in on the illusion of reliving shared heartaches – by vicariously experiencing them through fictional lovers caught in a maelstrom.
However, its effects are limited to the industry that birthed it and the audience that supports that industry. In fact, the theme of lovers struggling through a fluctuating romance that One More Chance explores has been explored before in other contemporary commercial films like Olivia Lamasan’s Sana Maulit Muli (1995), where the two lovers, played by Aga Muhlach and Lea Salonga, are suddenly separated by both distance and changes in personalities.
In between Sana Maulit Muli and One More Chance are mostly romances that are light-hearted. They are mostly stories of boys and girls falling in love, instead of falling out of it. They celebrate the pleasure of finding the one, instead of delving into the possibility that such pleasures are momentary and that there is no such thing as the one.
Thus, when One More Chance was released and because of the fact that Garcia-Molina crafted a film that is at once believable yet accessible, the floodgates were opened. There is more to love than ecstasy.
The movies today are influenced by all sorts of inspirations, though One More Chance certainly made its impact on the local industry.
Below are 5 post-One More Chance films that carried over the glossy realities that the film was able to introduce to a generation raised by love teams and other fantasies:
1. Till My Heartaches End (Jose Javier Reyes, 2010)
One More Chance took the risk of having the viable love team of John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo to reveal its cracks and fissures. In a way, the film acknowledged that there is an end to the studio-conceived relationships, exactly like real ones.
Jose Javier Reyes’ Till My Heartaches End is the last film of the Gerald Anderson and Kim Chiu tandem. The film traces the history of the relationship between the characters Anderson and Chiu play which ends in an ambiguous note. The film gambles on characters with obvious flaws.
Anderson’s character is an overly ambitious real estate broker. Chiu, on the other hand, plays a timid and self-doubting woman who has never fallen in love. The film goes through the motions of every common romance, but without insisting on forcing the make-believe down its viewers’ throats.
The film spelled the end of a love team. The fact that the film echoed what was purported to be a very real romance between Anderson and Chiu made it even more resonant, especially to the love team’s fans who have been fed with fantasies of forever.
Without One More Chance’s fluent depiction of the very real fact of heartaches even in the most reliable of relationships, Till My Heartaches End might have been a very risky experiment, one that would have fans rallying for refunds.
2. Unofficially Yours (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2012)
One aspect of One More Chance that has not been thoroughly discussed is that its lovers belong to a similar industry, one that is specialized and has nothing to do with advertising or the arts.
Even more remarkable is how the professions of Cruz and Alonzo are ingrained into the story by providing an opportunity for them to reignite the romance.
Garcia-Molina’s Unofficially Yours has Cruz and Angel Locsin engage in their sexually charged romantic trysts within a very specific kind of workplace, which is the office of a newspaper company.
More than the advertised depiction of modern relationships which was not fleshed out very well due to certain constraints, it is that facet of the film that proved to be Unofficially Yours’ bid at novelty.
Garcia-Molina was able to create a viable setting for a fantasy within what a world that most audiences are not aware of. Sure, the film never really tackles the ins and outs of that particular industry, but its depiction nevertheless bridges the gap between the obscure and the truly relatable, enough to serve as background to a love story that is as typical as what has been tackled before.
3. It Takes a Man and a Woman (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2013)
The third movie that tackles the love story of multi-millionaire Miggy Montenegro, played again by Cruz, and ordinary girl Laida Magtalas, played by Sarah Geronimo, opens by breaking the illusion that the two previous films established: that fairy tale endings exist even in this age where prince and princesses no longer exist.
From a place of humorous awkwardness brought about by an unpleasant breakup, It Takes a Man and a Woman tracks the two lovers back into the illusion of forever. The film treats the heartache with equal measures of lightness and heft, true to the tone of the two previous films, and truer to the mood that One More Chance has exposed the film’s audience with.
However, despite the unsurprising abundance in humor, Garcia-Molina acknowledges the reality of pain, especially amidst very high expectations regarding the relationship.
4. That Thing Called Tadhana (Antoinette Jadaone, 2014)
Screenwriter and director Antoinette Jadaone has always been vocal about her influences. Her second feature, That Thing Called Tadhana, sometimes feels more like a reaction to the many romantic comedies that she has consumed while growing up.
Its rhythm, starting from the unlikely encounter between the heartbroken woman, played by Angelica Panganiban, and a total stranger, played by JM de Guzman, in a foreign airport, and ending with them possibly falling in love, plays with all the tropes of the genre without succumbing to the excesses.
Tadhana, like One More Chance, relies heavily on dialogue for mood. The film is brimming with lines that strike at the very core of a tremendous heartache, and the lines themselves are delicately composed to carry with them the communal burden of having to fall in love only to end up being hurt.
In fact, more than the films themselves, it is the phrases and sentences that would linger the longest, because they summarize in the shortest time possible the weight of all the love-related agonies we have come to share even with the most fictional of characters in the most fictional of situations.
5. The Breakup Playlist (Dan Villegas, 2015)
Dan Villegas’ The Breakup Playlist, like One More Chance, lavishly dissects the torturous events leading towards and right after a disastrous breakup. With Jadaone as scriptwriter, the film also features lines that echo a post-One More Chance’s generation’s infatuation with heartbreak. It also features a couple united by a common profession, one which also becomes the main reason for the separation.
It also has an actor and an actress who have been groomed to be perfect personalities portray very imperfect characters. (READ:Sarah Geronimo, Piolo Pascual share what's on their breakup playlist)
In other words, The Breakup Playlist is the culmination of everything One More Chance has opened the doors for. Its atmosphere, stripped of the quixotic notions of a lasting romance, exemplifies that kind of romance that the post-One More Chance audience has come to welcome. In a way, part and parcel of the escapism that is being sold by commercial filmmakers is its connection with the very real insight that love is not only to be enjoyed but to be sacrificed for.
What's your favorite Filipino romance? Let us know in the comments below. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema. Profile photo by Fatcat Studios
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