'My Perfect You' review: Glossy romantic escape
Director Cathy Garcia-Molina is currently the Philippines' foremost crafter of escapist fantasies.
She, however, doesn't peddle her works as portraits of possible realities. She's aware that her stories are diversions to the drastically harsher lives of her film's audience, populating her perfect love stories with women who are obviously wearing outrageous wigs, seemingly in an effort to highlight the fact that nothing in the films' fairy tale endings can be farther from the truth.
My Perfect You appears to be the strangest in Garcia-Molina's filmography, even stranger than My Only Ü (2008), which had the characters played by Vhong Navarro and Toni Gonzaga commit to a romance even in the afterlife.
What makes My Perfect You stand out is how it isn't exactly a love story but an examination of Burn, played excellently by Gerald Anderson, a man desperate for an escape from the many problems that ail his life. The film opens with him running away from his family, hurriedly driving to an unknown destination until he swerves into a ravine trying to avoid hitting a pedestrian who suddenly appears in the middle of the road. He gets out of his damaged car and finds himself in a decrepit resort managed by overeager and endlessly optimistic Abi, played by surprisingly soulful Miss Universe winner-turned-actress Pia Wurtzbach.
Just like a typical Garcia-Molina film or any other rom-com for that matter, the boy, after repelling and struggling through the many quirks of the girl, falls in love with her.
Garcia-Molina commits to the boy's escape. While the romance definitely serves as a supplement to the film's probe into Burn's mental condition, she treats it as a complete narrative. She goes through the motions of the genre, allowing both Burn and Abi all the traits to make the audience root for their happy ending. She fuels the escape with gloss, humor, and verve, only to abandon it for what could be her first foray into tackling a bleaker world apart from everything about love.
Mixing mind and heart
In that sense, My Perfect You, with its conscious mix of the life of a conflicted character that is separate from a romantic escape, shows the relationship between the world of the film's audience and their thirst for erstwhile fantasies.
It helps that the film chooses a traditional rom-com to serve as Burn's portal to a perfect universe where he has sanity, worth, direction, and a definite goal. Romantic comedies, which have peppered local screens, have served the public by allowing them to vicariously experience lives whose only concerns are matters of the heart and are not concerned about politics and other themes.
The contrasts between the pains of Burn's domestic life and the hopes provided by his sweet time with Abi reflect the same relationship most audiences have with the pleasures offered by all the predictable love stories that they incessantly consume.
Ode to escape
In a way, My Perfect You feels like an ode to the type of escape the films of Garcia-Molina provide.
Garcia-Molina is thankfully honest enough to admit that while escape is great, nothing beats the simple joys of the real world, with all of its beautiful flaws and chances for a better future that even the most perfect of love stories cannot readily provide. – 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.