Thursday, August 23, 2018

Miss Granny

Fely (Nova Villa) is a doting grandmother who spoils her grandson to bits. Jeboy (James Reid) plays the guitar in a rock band, even though gigs have been few and far between. His mother Angie (Lotlot de Leon) is not as supportive, which causes a rift between her and her mother-in-law. When her illness gets worse due to stress in the house caused by her in-law’s constant nagging, her husband Ramoncito (Nonie Buencamino) is forced to choose between his wife and his mother, ultimately leading to the decision to just temporarily transfer the latter to a caring home that he is managing. Hurt upon hearing the decision, the old lady walks around the neighborhood to unwind and stumbles upon Forever Young, a portrait studio where she decides to have her photo taken on a whim. The photographer promises to make her look fifty years younger. As she exits the premises, she gets the surprise of a lifetime when she finds herself back in her 20-year-old body (Sarah Geronimo).

I became interested in this movie mainly because of Villa. I’ve been having a soft spot for narratives involving old people lately. There is just so much to learn from them and their experiences in life, not to mention the endearment that you feel from missing your very own grandmother. I ended up slightly disappointed not because she fails to deliver, but rather because of the approach.

Perhaps I’ve been spoiled too much by much better treatment in the indie scene? For this I blame the director, not the actor. The performance is heartfelt, but heavily tweaked to cater to a mainstream audience, with a propensity for borderline overacting at times. Less should be more, but there’s just no place for subtlety in a Viva or Star Cinema movie. I hope I’d get to see Villa in an indie flick soon. I know she’ll kill it.

Everyone is praising Geronimo here, which is not that difficult because she is indeed a standout. What we are not sure of is if her acting indeed improved or are we just showering her with praises because she is doing something new? Most of her roles have followed the same template: the demure ball of sunshine next door. She has also tackled some angst-ridden roles, but it is the first time we’re seeing her portray a more complex character.

In Miss Granny, she is still the love interest, but is also a grandma, a mother, a frustrated entertainer, and all of those trapped in a younger body. Whatever the case is, this narrative works because of her, and this role will always be a bright spot on her rather pedestrian filmography.

The sequences seem a bit disjointed, like scenes just jump on each other without any attempt for smooth transitions. There are also instances of questionable sound mixing as well as weird choice of background music, some of them either being too loud or their goal of heightening tension being all too obvious.

What they get right, though, is the soundtrack. Geronimo gets to sample some old songs that match her vocals well, albeit with some exaggerations on style to reflect the character's rambunctious personality. Even the original Tagalog composition that she sings at the contest is memorable, fusing modern beats with meaningful lyrics that prompt you to reflect on mortality and life in general.

There is no point of comparison because I have not seen the original Korean version or any of the other Asian remakes. However, there is reason to believe that Miss Granny succeeds in giving the narrative a very Filipino flavor, with the discourse on old age and how senior citizens are treated by society at large at the forefront.

Taking care of the elderly is a cultural trait that distinguishes the east from the west. Here, it is familial obligation to look after them, and suggestions of sending them to nursing homes are heavily frowned upon. What this film does is offer you a story of second chances as well as the pursuit of dreams, all while reinforcing that custom and reminding us of the importance of such family ties.

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