Sunday, February 19, 2017

My Ex and Whys

Cali (Liza Soberano) is the brains behind The Bakit List, a twitter account of a jaded millennial who gives up on love after her ex Gio (Enrique Gil) sleeps with another girl while getting wasted at a concert. Finding out that his ex is the person behind the social media account, he resumes his pursuit of her forgiveness through playful online banter, resulting in an unexpected love team that fans suddenly begin to ship. Catching the attention of marketers on the lookout for social media ambassadors to carry their brands, she receives a lucrative offer for partnership, but with one condition: the campaign should also include him. She’s in it for business, while he gets onboard hoping for reconciliation. Eager to prove that cheaters never change, she seizes every opportunity to paint him as the villain in their past relationship. When one of her schemes backfires resulting in the calling off of their best friend Lee’s (Ryan Bang) wedding, the two follow him to Korea to fix what has been broken. Can they also fix theirs?

Romantic comedies have a lot in common, but the main argument is basically that of championing love. No matter how funny and mushy your narrative is, if you veer away from tradition and present a tragic or unconventional ending, then your movie runs the risk of being a flop. Given the predictability of formula, the better barometer to use in rating films of this genre is to determine whether you enjoyed it or not. How unique is the presentation? Did you feel good after watching it? The verdict will vary from person to person. As for me, I think I enjoyed this feature despite the clichés, and not without reason.

The trend nowadays is to juxtapose social media interaction with real time events as they happen. This technique has been visible in Star Cinema movies as of late. In a way it is a good thing, perhaps not revolutionary but still very indicative of the status quo. It acknowledges the power social media wields over humanity, how it dictates the current norm on how we communicate with each other. Romantic comedies are mostly similar in terms of main idea, but the steady supply also means that they contribute something to the preservation of human history. Watching a dozen of them that came out in the same decade is akin to a case study on how interpersonal connections unfolded during that period of time. It is safe to say that we are now in the age of love in time of social media. Highlighting this element is this film’s contribution to the saturated genre it operates in.

Staying stubbornly true to its rom-com roots, My Ex and Whys features a chase scene in the end. In the 1990’s this could have involved a traffic jam, an airport terminal, and the convenient accuracy of one of the lead characters’ amazing location detection abilities that would put a sniffing dog to shame. Since this is 2017, social media makes everything comfortable for you. As girl runs after boy, her crew goes live on Facebook encouraging their fans to report boy’s current location if they happen to see him. After a flurry of hashtags and mentions, they end up in each other’s arms in less than an hour. Again, LIVE on Facebook for the whole world to see.

Even the motivation that drives some of the characters involves their online personas. Cali secures a book deal and becomes viral thanks to her online following. Even her primary ordeals are determined by the medium, something which would’ve been hard to grasp had this been set in the 80’s, for example. The methods she employs to sabotage Gio target character assassination via online scrutiny. The dynamics of relationships as we know it, have truly evolved over time.

Ryan Bang and the whole Korea subplot could have been the typical comic relief/field trip combo to sidetrack moviegoers from a scattered plot. The good thing is at least there is an effort to develop that arc into something more than just a distraction. We can even say that the character and the setting have been pivotal to plot development. As for Soberano and Gil, they are young. It's good to see that they actually have  the acting chops to back up their good looks. For now, they can just enjoy the benefits of being in a love team, although honing their craft as actors is also ideal for longevity's sake.

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