‘Somebody to Love’ Review: More romp than romance
The easiest thing to do is to misjudge Jose Javier Reyes’ Somebody to Love as just another one of those romantic comedies mainstream studios love to churn out.
It certainly looks the part, especially with its manufactured gloss and youthful vibe, and cast of famously pretty or popular faces. However, to do so would be to completely abandon what’s interesting that’s snugly tucked underneath the movie’s blatant artifices.
Reyes is a more interesting social critic than he is a filmmaker. His best films, such as May Minamahal (1993), Kung Ako na Lang Sana (2003), and Ano ang Kulay ng mga Nakalimutang Pangarap? (2013), are not marked by astounding cinematic technique or flourish. Instead, they are accurate observations of middle class concerns and woes, adeptly communicated.
In May Minamahal, Aga Muhlach and Aiko Melendez’s love story is made complicated by a difference in social status. Kung Ako na Lang Sana, on the other hand, had Muhlach and Sharon Cuneta repetitively delaying their fated romance because they are too involved with their individual bourgeois concerns.
In Ano ang Kulay ng mga Nakalimutang Pangarap, Ryan Agoncillo’s well-to-do family is stricken with guilt over sustaining the family’s elderly nanny, played marvelously by Rustica Carpio, who has kept beholden to the family for her entire life, because of an iniquitous system that is necessitated by an obvious social divide.
Reyes is best when he keeps his filmmaking simple. Absent any needless effort for directorial pageantry, he is able to communicate his wit and observations with refreshing efficiency and earnestness. Unfortunately, Reyes is constrained to gimmickry in Somebody to Love, perhaps in an effort to string together several narratives within a running time that is not too daunting to the average moviegoer.
As a result, Somebody to Love is riddled with inconsistencies. The interwoven stories of its characters, all spanning a single week in their busy lives, are laid out through quickly edited episodes that more often than not end in jokes and punchlines of varying effectiveness.
Sometimes, the episodes overlap with Reyes using split screens as a device to enunciate the fact that two events are happening at once, further emphasizing how the lives of the characters are interconnected.
The experience can be quite grating, especially when certain scenes are abruptly terminated to segue to a less involving sequence. Some of the characters have stories that tend to be more profound than the rest, deserving of more breathing room for drama than what Reyes’ style and stunts provide.
Yet it is this exact inconsistency in the film that makes it an intriguing viewing experience. Its liberal shifts in tone and mood evoke the complexity of the setting that Reyes tries to paint.
As the film connects the climaxes of the stories of a woman (Maricar Reyes) who is trapped in a loveless marriage, and another woman (Kiray) who is desperately trying to have a gay man fall for her, it paints a picture of a middle class society that is caught up in different concerns, ranging from whimsical to serious.
That Reyes explores a bizarre social landscape through the very relatable theme of love is quite noteworthy. It exposes Reyes’ shrewd understanding and acceptance of the audience he is working for, without sacrificing his very own interest of exploring through cinematic means class-defined ironies and impulses. Somebody to Love is undeniably pop, and because it is pop, its biting caricatures are all the more palatable and easier to digest.
Somebody to Love, with its quick but efficient stabs at contemporary society’s humorous excesses, is a romp whose pronounced inconsistency is both blessing and bane.
As it jumps from the interchanging romances of real estate upstart (Matteo Guidicelli), his former flame (Isabelle Daza), a mid-level marketing manager he becomes attracted to (Carla Abellana), and the marketing manager’s tongue-tied best friend (Jason Abalos), to the work woes of a vicious but fading TV star (Iza Calzado) and her suffering assistants (Vince de Jesus, Cai Cortez, and Ella Cruz), the film allows a satirical glimpse of the frustrating but fun chaos that vaguely defines this working generation. – 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.