'Three Words to Forever' review: Best left at the altar
Cathy Garcia-Molina’s Three Words to Forever isn’t a bad movie. It’s just immensely unremarkable.
Tears and sobs
The third of Garcia-Molina’s foray into making family dramas, Three Words to Forever feels more like a stubborn attempt to milk the same cow thrice without even trying to tweak the methodology. The result is a film that is more of the same narrative of a seemingly ordinary family bursting at the seams with secrets that threaten to ruin their fragile harmony.
Rick (Richard Gomez) and Cristy (Sharon Cuneta), after 25 years of marriage, have decided to separate. However, they agreed to be completely quiet about it and only do it after their trip to Ormoc to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Cristy’s parents, Cito (Freddie Webb) and Tinay (Liza Lorena). While in Ormoc, Rick and Cristy’s daughter Tin (Kathryn Bernardo) tells them that she has decided to get married to her boyfriend Kyle (Tommy Esguerra).
Like in Four Sisters and a Wedding (2013) and Seven Sundays (2017), Three Words to Forever’s plot starts out as a humor-laced depiction of an imperfect Filipino family then explodes with each and every single character unloading all their pent up frustrations with each other. In Four Sisters and a Wedding, that overly emotional climax feels earned, mainly because the performances of were moving. In Seven Sundays, despite its very many inconsistencies, that climax still worked, partly due to actors Dingdong Dantes and Aga Muhlach willingness to shed their pristine image to add heft to their characters.
In Three Words to Forever however, the climax, despite all the tears and sobs, falls flat and just fails to affect.
What went wrong?
What exactly went wrong if Three Words to Forever is so beholden to formula that more or less would arrive at something stirring? Sadly, it seems that the culprit to Three Words to Forever’s staleness is the performances.
It is imperative to the character of Rick that he be emasculated by Cristy’s constant nagging. However, Gomez never really embodies any sliver of emasculation. Muhlach, in Seven Sundays, strips himself of his usual charms to complete his character as the family’s failure and black sheep, prompting the character of Dantes to resent him further. Gomez, unfortunately, never seems to let go of his vigor and prestige, hesitating to fully realize a character who has become so overshadowed by his wife’s control that his only way to reclaim his "manliness" is to get out of the marriage.
Cuneta fares a little bit better, yet she, like Gomez, doesn’t really commit to the requirements of her character. She never fulfils the look of a wife who is stuck in an unhappy marriage. Thankfully, when she is required to emote, she does so convincingly. It is just in the lighter moments that her character reveals a distinct lack of depth or realism.
Bernardo and Lorena are fine given that their roles are hardly demanding. Webb, on the other hand, is just dull and forgettable.
Perhaps Three Words to Forever is far too busy with gloss that none of the emotions it evokes really ring true.
All the characters look well. The locations are pretty. When everybody isn’t wailing about their misfortunes, everything just feels good and dandy. The film never really works hard to depict struggles, making its emotional upheavals feel underwhelming and empty and its happy ending so uneventful. Three Words to Forever is such a humdrum endeavor.
To add insult to injury, the most moving portions of Three Words to Forever doesn’t involve Rick, Cristy, or any of their family member’s marital troubles.
The most moving and even funniest portions of the movie involve the various married couples who are interviewed about their marital experiences. The interviews are actually quite plain, absent the gloss and manipulation that pervade the narrative. However, without much fanfare or fabrication, the anecdotes of the real couples have all the sincerity that is grossly lacking in the film.
In summary, Three Words to Forever is a family drama that has more inherent problems than the marriages it depicts. It’s easy to forget, a diversion that is best left at the altar. – Rappler.com