Monday, January 29, 2018

Movie Review: Mr. and Mrs. Cruz

Image courtesy of Instagram: ryzacenon

Movie Review by Atty. Ferdinand Topacio

MR. AND MRS. CRUZ (2018, Viva Films)

Ryza Cenon, JC Santos, Yayo Aguila, Dennis Padilla, Dido Dela Paz, Lui Manansala, Bong Cabrera, Sophie Rankin

Screenplay and Direction: Sigrid Andrea Bernardo

A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN

At first blush, “Mr. and Mrs. Cruz” may be dismissed as just one more entry in the newly-emergent (at least for the Philippines) “narrative dialogue” movie genre, perhaps so far best exemplified by last year’s “Kita Kita” and 2014’s “A Thing Called Tadhana”, both sleeper hits. Yet, MAMC makes a spirited attempt to punch beyond its weight class, and clearly succeeds, putting it a notch or two above the previous examples.

The credit must go in large part to the charisma of the two leads: Ryza Cenon acts very impressively, simply because she does not try to impress. Exhibiting admirable restraint and economy of movement and mannerism, she pulls us into her character – that of Gela, a conflicted yet vulnerable woman -- and makes us believe that we are seeing a real human being, not an actress. Stage veteran JC Santos is richly nuanced and totally real as Raffy, a jilted groom. Both explore the texture of their characters as two lost persons finding themselves by losing themselves in scenic Palawan Province.

A “caveat”: those who think that Palawan gave the actors a legitimate excuse to bare flesh would be gravely disappointed. There is no gratuitous nudity here. The sole love scene is, in fact, so tame, it barely qualifies as a love scene at all. Santos, while buff and ruggedly handsome, does not possess a Greek god type of body so fashionable among young male stars; his is a normal healthy physique that adds realism to his role. This does not, however, detract from his star quality; in fact, as I told my friend after the movie, nakakabakla. Cenon, achingly pretty, relies not on bodily exposure but on her sheer sex appeal to generate an increasing sexual tension with Santos that permeates most of the movie.

But wait, there’s more! Aside from their inherent charisma, the two protagonists play off each other with a chemistry that is nothing short of scintillating. Discomfortedly sizing each other out at first, the two in time mesh into an interaction that is totally believable because genuinely they look like they are slowly beginning to like each other as the movie progresses. This gradual enmeshing is graphically symbolized by their steady but measured physical proximity: positioned at opposite ends of the screen at the start, they gradually move closer to each other until their ultimate intimacy is capped by a literal and figurative joining of the two single beds in the room that they both accidentally share. A touch of inspired genius by the director!

The plot is nothing new: two people seeking solace separately in the same place find themselves thrown together by force of circumstances. She had just left her partner after several years of cohabitation; he was the victim of a bride who had cold feet and stood him up at their wedding. Misery loves company and all that. It was quite easy for the writer to lapse into the tried, tired and tested tropes of the usual Filipino rom-com. The audience was glad that he did not. In fact, the perceptive moviegoer will realize that there were many instances where the writer pointedly thumbed his nose at film clichés.

The dialogue was wise and witty, delightful and charming. Full of puns and play, redolent with allusions to pop culture and literature, it ran the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous. Yet, for a movie where the story was sustained almost solely by dialogue, there were few flat moments. And then again, those were easy to gloss over due to the charm of the leads. Verily, MAMC has one of the most intelligent lines I have ever heard in a local movie in a long time. And while the ending is atypical of Filipino movies, the script purposely left a subtle glimmer of hope for the protagonists, something for the viewer to ruminate and perhaps, speculate on. A sequel or two perhaps, ala the “Before Trilogy” (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight)?

Palawan Province, the film’s setting, is the third character in this film. In this, a comparison to “Siargao” cannot be avoided: that film failed notwithstanding the beauty of its location, because it placed location first, and narrative second; it looked more like a travelogue than a drama. In contrast, in this movie, Palawan was, in the eyes of the movie’s lensman, a breathing, living thing, providing not only backdrop (as is typical in most films), but also symbolism, atmosphere, and the occasional emotional underscoring, enhancing the action and dialogue, and not merely giving the actors a stage on which to act. Kudos to the director for another stroke of brilliance.

If there are two actors who should be given more breaks in the future, it should be Cenon and Santos. Simply put, these two show a refreshing and novel take on young adult roles that are heads and shoulders above the SOS (Same Old S**t) we get with the old reliables. After the movie ends, one actually wishes that those two would meet again and actually get married, and raise the perfect family; a marriage made in heaven.

24 comments:

  1. Thank you madam FP for this timely post. Will watch it for sure

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  2. reading a movie review from atty.topacio is a treat for me talaga! u are a great story teller sir! more movie reviews pa sana!

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  3. Napanuod ko to at 3 lang kami sa sinehan pero okay yung movie.

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    1. Hahaha. Ako ata isa dun. 3 lang din nun nanood ako. Floppy nga movie karma siguro kay JC. ok lang din movie. malayo sa kita kita na maganda talaga.

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  4. "nakakabakla" talaga, Atty? Haha!

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    1. Dyan din ako natawa hahaha kulet ni atty eh pati sa JC santos

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  5. Namiss ko tong movie reviews sa fp!!! Eto lang kasi batayan ko kung papanoorin ko ang movie or not. Ang mahal na ng sine ngayon noh! I always make sure na sulit ang binabayad ko

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  6. Manunuod ako dahil sa review na to

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  7. Will definitely watch this

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  8. Mahusay naman talaga si Ryza, kaya nga effective siya sa ikaanim na utos. Ang problema lang sa kanya yung baby talk niya saka wala siyang hatak sa masa. Maganda yung movie pati execution, ang kaso wala siyang fanbase. Walan charm sa public.

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    Replies
    1. True starstruck days pa lang baby talk na sya.

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    2. kailangan matuto na rin ang audience na tangkilikin ang mga pelikulang hindi lang ka cheapan at pabebe love teams ang storya. Sila Ryza and JC, mas ok dahil hindi naman sila mga LT ngayon. Gumaganap lang sila bilang magagaling na artista. Parang tambalang Alempoy lang.

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    3. 9:36 hindi mo naman pwedeng iimposw sa mga tao kung ano ang trip nilang panoorin at kung sino ang dapat suportahan. See this movie? Maganda raw pero flop. Ang kailangan ngayon ng artista ay charm at hatak sa masa. That's the reality.

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  9. Super nice and refreshing ang movie! Very worthy---

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  10. ED SHEEERRRA SHEEERRAJanuary 28, 2018 at 11:22 AM

    Definitely support this movie, enough of corny pabebe love teams, thrashy gay comedy movies of vice ganda and cheesy special effects fantasy films. The guy has no showbizzy features but their is reality in his aura as a leading man. Two thumbs up.....

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  11. don't stop producing films like this! maganda, hindi yung mga LT na overhyped. These two are actors and they've done justice to this story.Nice film.

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  12. Watched this kanina and it was really really good. From start to the end. Tatawa ka. Lalo na dun sa suka scene. Hahahaha

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  13. not as charming as Kita Kita. nakaka umay na ang mga ganitong plots na dalawa lang kayo g hanashan ng hanashan sa buhay.

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  14. Ayos lang sya for me. Hindi basura film. Pinanuod namin siya ng bestfriend ko wala pa ata kameng sampu sa sinehan.

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  15. Parang Before Sunrise siya na that thing called tadhana-ish. Maganda naman movie. Nasa around 10-15 kasabay namin manood.

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  16. I just watched the movie a while ago with my office mates and I really must say it’s a great film. Certainly there are are some lapses and mistakes but one can simply overlook them because of the two leads. Surprisingly, Ryza really acted well. Regardless of the genre, rom-com, I believe she deserves a nomination or even an ward for her portrayal. JC is also good and I love how they interact with each other. Tulad nga ng isang linya sa pelikula, aanhin mo ang hugot kung may chemistry naman. I really hope people will suppprt the movie. Btw, I watched at Glorietta and the cinema is 2/3 full. So I guess na-spread na yung magagandang reviews as people are starting to see the movie.

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  17. Panoorin ninyo ang "Mr. and Mrs. Cruz!"

    Dapat talaga sa big screen dahil ang ganda-ganda ng Palawan!

    Nice dialogue too: raw and straight-to-the-point, but not pedestrian nor uncouth; poetic, but not archaic.

    The plot may not be unique, but it will open your eyes to the realities of current romance.

    Magnificent directorial job. The dance scene is so charming.

    Casting feels perfect.

    I want to see the movie again!

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  18. Super Ganda ng Movie. A must see. mas makikilala mo sarili mo after. Ang lakas ng appeal ni JC Santos.

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