‘Unbreakable’ review: Desperate for tears

Oggs Cruz
'Unbreakable' uses low-brow tragedy as a crutch

UNBREAKABLE. Angelica Panganiban and Bea Alonzo star a best of friends who goes through a challenge in their friendship. Screenshots from YouTube/ABS-CBN Star Cinema

Mae Cruz-Alviar’s Unbreakable has one goal in mind, and that is to make its viewers cry.

It is desperate for tears, crowding its two-hour running time with the most unbelievable of twists and turns, and manipulating emotions with all manners of narrative gimmicks. The plot’s more suited for a soap opera spanning multiple seasons, with all its needless convolutions that would serve the purpose of establishing cliffhangers to keep interest around for another day. As a feature film, they’re all noise that render its theme of unbreakable friendship woefully artificial.

Rife with cliches

The film opens already rife with clichés.

One rainy night, Deena (Angelica Panganiban) attempts to take her life by jumping into a pool with the purpose of drowning herself. Mariel (Bea Alonzo), her best friend, is hurrying to reach her friend before it is too late. In the background, her disembodied voice blathers about friendship. The entire sequence segues to a flashback where we see both girls becoming friends over an opportune fight that leads to a heart-to-heart talk in a convenience store over steamed pork buns.

It’s all cute and harmless. 

In a montage consisting of Deena’s string of heartbreaks where Mariel takes a role as her doting defender, Cruz-Alviar manages to briskly cover all of her protagonists’ strengths and faults as friends, all of which will find relevance in the many more confrontations between them and the new characters that will step into their lives.

Needless to say, there is more to Unbreakable than girly bonds in college. The film evolves into something more sordid, with Mariel marrying into a wealthy clan whose matriarch (Gloria Diaz) sees her as an unwanted invader, leading to troubles to test a friendship that supposedly stands the test of time.

THERE FOR EACH OTHER. Deena and Mariel go through the good times and the bad times.

Lack of restraint

The film’s problem lies in its frustrating lack of restraint.

Unbreakable is melodrama in its most problematic form. It is bereft of subtlety and grossly relies on the spectacle of tearful outbursts and passive-aggressive spats. In small servings, this can be entertaining but if an entire film is drowning in faux gravitas and snarky sarcasm, it can get quite grating and torturous.

What’s worse is that there seems to be no effort to make Unbreakable look cinematic. 

The aesthetics is low-brow, better suited for television than the big screen. Sure, Alonzo and Panganiban are capable performers. Sadly, throughout the film, it always feels like the film simply does not deserve their skill, that their gift for gestured acting is wasted in something that is just so addicted to larger-than-life encounters and blatant expressions. 

ROCKY RELATIONSHIP. Mariel's relationship with Justin (Richard Gutierrez) is tested by an unfortunate incident.

Low-brow and shameless

Unbreakable uses low-brow tragedy as a crutch.

It is so desperate for sobs that it injects its storyline with the most unimaginative of devices. The film verges on being totally shameless. – 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.