Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Mistress

♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Sparks fly when JD (John Lloyd Cruz) meets Sari (Bea Alonzo) in a bookstore. He is persistent. She is reluctant. He is an architect who gets what he wants; a reluctant heir to the family’s business empire. She is the wardrobe mistress of a reputable tailoring shop; a persistent breadwinner who would do everything to support the big household relying on her. Theirs is a perfect love affair waiting to blossom, if everything were just made believe. Unfortunately, there is this thing called reality. He is his mother’s biggest secret. She is the kept woman of a business tycoon. Happy ending, anyone?

Mistresses here, mistresses there, they are everywhere! Even before No Other Woman last year, Pinoys have always been fascinated with this social phenomenon. Everyone just needs an annual dose of his querida movie, and this year's bet is no lightweight, but then again, the question: You have seen one too many kabit movies in this lifetime, do you really need to see another one? And if so, why this one?

First, The Mistress has a good storyline that could support it even without the flashy gimmicks that made No Other Woman a runaway hit last year. Bea Alonzo and Hilda Koronel need not roll on the floor pulling each other’s hair while garbed in Barney-purple ensembles, or recite kilometric retorts that would put a cheesy telenovela to shame. The presentation of facts is very straightforward, with every twist given away early that it makes you wonder if something else is coming up. The early revelation leaves plenty of room to explore the characters’ motivations and conflicts. Background information is presented in a manner by which the necessity for flashbacks is eliminated: in the case of Sari, through Anita Linda's amusing senile outbursts; for JD, through the combination of photos and drunk confessions.

What is most remembered about No Other Woman were its quotable quotes recited even up to this day. For The Mistress, this simply would not happen. In fact, there is only one tagline repeated ad nauseam by Bea Alonzo’s character: “Hindi dahil gusto mo, makukuha mo” or something to that effect. It is not even catchy. The good thing is that no gimmicks are needed to sell this movie because the acting already speaks for itself, and with Bea and John Lloyd at the helm, could you even go wrong?

These two’s onscreen chemistry is already a time-tested box-office element in itself. Their last project grossed around 150 million pesos despite the rather boring storyline. Here, they tackle a sensational issue that is a favorite of many: being a mistress. It is no longer a question whether this would gross a hundred million. The appropriate question would be “How fast”.

Acting? Bea has already done risqué roles prior to this. She does not necessarily raise the bar here, but she does not go below it either. John Lloyd has the more interesting set of dialogues, most of which quite loaded, and his delivery is just as good as it has always been. Bonus? Hilda Koronel and Ronaldo Valdez, both of whom need not exert much effort to leave an impression, especially Hilda who gets to lambast Bea twice without much opposition.

Fine then, enough with the pros. Give me the cons! The theme itself. Sari tells you that no woman ever dreamed of becoming a mistress. A lot of people would not agree to this. There is always a choice, no matter how difficult it is to make that decision, and you will always be the one to make it regardless if you do so freely or under duress. While the reason behind her unpopular decision is made very clear, Sari’s choice (or lack thereof, if you subscribe to her way of thinking) will always be challenged by many on the grounds of morality, which has always been an ambiguous concept to begin with. Expect a lengthy debate on how this movie is just a glamorization of an immoral lifestyle. Expect it from those who take everything by face value.

The theme song, a rendition of Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars, is good enough to reflect the situation and summarize what the lead characters actually feel. We live each day governed by a set of unwritten rules that have to be followed, lest you want a backlash from a truly judgmental society. Sometimes you want to get away from it, but you know you just cannot, and it all depends on you if you want to opt for non-conformity and live with the consequences. Did JD and Sari? You are going to have to find out on your own. This movie is not the best thing since sliced bread, but it is one of the better movies to be churned out by the mainstream this year, and definitely worth your hard-earned peso.

2 creature/s gave a damn:

hustler said...

is the film better than danny zialcita's kabit movies? a 4-stars is too high for a review that is just about good enough. don't you think?

ihcahieh said...

@Husttler - sorry but the 'kabit' movies I was referring to are just the recent ones that I was able to see. I don't even know who Danny Zialcita is. As for my ratings, they are highly arbitrary. Most of the time, they just reflect how I enjoyed the movie.

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