Friday, September 20, 2019

Open

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Romina (Arci Muñoz) and Ethan (JC Santos) have been in a relationship for 14 years. Happy with their current live in set up, he is not really thinking about marriage, while she obviously wants it. Going to an engagement party after a family reunion, she is pleasantly surprised and then utterly disappointed thinking it would be theirs. As it turns out, it is his best friend’s engagement and he is just the best man. A lovers’ quarrel ensues in the car. The next day he sees his best friend’s fiancée in front of a condo french kissing another woman. Confronting the soon-to-be groom, he finds out that the two are in an open relationship. They are indeed getting married but free to see and sleep with other people they don’t know. With their relationship going stale, Ethan floats the idea to Rome. She hesitantly agrees, thinking it’s the only way to save them from breaking up. His first prospect: Erica (Ina Raymundo), his sexy boss who has been sending him mixed signals at work.

Open relationships are not for everyone, as explicitly stated by the best friend and the fiancée. It requires both parties to be willing and to have a liberated mindset about such setup. Otherwise, it leads to a disastrous result, and the telltale signs are there for Ethan and Rome from the very start, which is why the film is a bit difficult to watch because it’s like watching a couple boarding a train even when the driver already told them from the very start that they are in for a crash. Why watch it then?

Well, for starters, they literally fuck around with other people. For many couples, it’s like relationship porn, a cinematic fantasy fulfillment of a setup that has perhaps crossed their minds but will never reach fruition. In a way it is similar to narratives involving mistresses and third parties. It gives guys permission to consider the idea without committing to it, and then it gives girls a reason to nag them later on because of a hypothetical scenario that never really happened. Couples. HAHAHA.

Opinions will always be relative when it comes to such a divisive and controversial topic. If you’ve only been with one person all your life, then the tendency is to get bored. On the other hand, if you’ve been playing around with different people all your life, then the tendency is to get tired. Open presents the limbo setup in between, of enjoying the liberty of being single yet at the same time being committed to another person. Again, not everyone will make sense of that, like wanting to have your cake and eat it too.

The real highlight of the film is the acting of its lead actors. Neither Santos nor Muñoz opts for hysterics. I’m not familiar with their respective filmography, but based on a snippet of one of her TV projects, She seems to be a good fit for bubbly and fag hag roles. Here, both actors act with a certain kind of restraint. There are scenes characterized by intense emotions, but they pull it off with enough subtlety, generous give and take, which gives the material some air of poignancy without trying too hard.

Again, the storyline is not for everyone. No, not in a place with a surplus of holier than thou saints who don’t practice what they preach. If you do not belong to that demographic, though, then Open is actually enjoyable to watch in the sense that it gives you a liberal perspective on modern and non-traditional relationships which do happen in real life. If you look at it beyond the superficial layer of a cheating narrative, then what you get is an honest deconstruction of what it means to be in a relationship and what makes it work.

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