Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Neighbor's Wife


Hounded by their spouses for various domestic issues, Giselle (Lovi Poe) and Bullet (Jake Cuenca) end up in bed after one night of drinking and dancing. Although the truth about their one night stand is eventually revealed to their respective partners, the two couples stay together. Fast forward one year later, Jasmine (Carla Abellana) is now forever suspicious and cold towards her husband while Aaron (Dennis Trillo), on the other hand, puts his wife under martial law, even imposing a curfew. Unknown to their "adulterous" partners, the two maintain correspondence as friends to keep watch of what they think of as a still continuing affair. The problem? They start to develop feelings for each other, which later develops into a full-blown relationship. Is it love, lust, or are they just getting even? What happens when the truth finally comes out? Who dies? Are the rumors true that there is a foursome among the leads?

No, there is none, and nobody dies, but I am going to reaffirm my decision to dub this as soft porn. The love scenes here are just more explicit and all four of them switch sex partners as if they were following a round robin system in a football tournament. This is what this movie offers as a form of short-term entertainment to keep you hooked for two hours, because seriously, who really cares about how the plot unfolds, right? You must have some gimmick in there in order to sell your movie. Unfortunately, moviegoers nowadays do not really go for this kind of diversion anymore.

Ever wondered why there are no more X Rated films with vegetable names for titles in cinemas? Pinoy moviegoers are over that. Slapstick and over the top acting are in nowadays. If your film is drama you could make it campy through dialogue or characterization, anything to make that moviegoer go on talking even one year after the original screening. This movie's strength is in its plot and character development, as well as in the irony of events. The problem with that is people could get all those in soap operas. For free. Why pay more than 150 bucks if that is all you are after, right? You need the right gimmick to sell nowadays, and My Neighbor's Wife did not get the memo. That is why it flopped. It is plausible because of its plot and characters, but all in all, it just does not stand out. Or like they want to say on Idol, it was a clean performance but it was just too safe.

The acting here is decent, not brilliant. The whole two hours is maximized to effectively demonstrate character development, in that you really see how the womanizer becomes a better husband and father, and how the social climber living beyond her means turns into the breadwinner. It helps that the acting is consistent for most of the actors involved.

Poe had her turn in the Temptation Island remake. Here, she is easily overshadowed by Abellana, whose acting repertoire has dramatically improved since her not so convincing debut as Rosalinda in the Pinoy remake. Her face is sort of ambiguous. At certain angles she looks like Camile Prats. Sometimes she resembles Marian Rivera. And there are instances when she looks like a tranny, must be the prominent jawline. Blame genetics.

Back to Poe, she has moments of brilliance but there are some obvious inconsistencies in the acting department. Bedroom voice might work most of the time, but not always. Anyway, Regal seems to be heavily investing on her career. She has a horror movie coming soon. This girl can act, she just needs the right roles, and I hope she gets them. Side comment: I have come to realize after staring at her that she would look bland without makeup. Better maintain a good working relationship with her stylist.

Trillo has always been a good actor but here what we often see are fits of anger, which are what the character mainly requires. He does what he can with such a role, but you just wish that he were given a role in which he could show off his range. Cuenca, on the other hand, continues to improve. I was half expecting to see him recycle his psycho-effeminate attack of his character in In the Name of Love, but no. He gives you something new here. As the womanizer turned repentant family man, he is able to show you a seamless transition, giving justice to his role. There are some awkward crying scenes, but hey, you do not get it right all the time. There is room for improvement.

In the end this movie would make you think: Which is more adulterous, a one-night stand or an eight-month affair serving as some sort of payback by the aggrieved parties? The characters of Trillo and Poe air these questions through their dialogue. As the guy would say, “Now you know how it feels to be cheated. Besides, you were the first to do so.” And then the girl replies, “Until when are you going to punish me for one mistake despite me spending all this time making it up to you?” It is complicated. My suggestion? Do not get married if you want to play around. All these “kabit” movies tell you just one thing, that relationships would be destroyed. And trust, once lost, is hard to establish again.

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