Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Unforgettable

♣♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Jasmine (Sarah Geronimo) is a special girl. Since her parents died, she and her sisters Dahlia (Ara Mina) and Violet (Meg Imperial) have been raised alone by their grandmother Olive (Gina Pareño) in the family home in Baguio. After her sisters have moved to the big city, it is Jasmine who gets left behind to take care of their now ailing lola. Her impressive skills in cooking and memorization also prove to be an asset for the family business, that of a small café that she helps manage. When the grandma is diagnosed with tuberculosis, Jasmine is forced to live with her sisters in Manila in fear of her weak immune system being compromised by their grandparent’s worsening condition. There she meets and adopts Happy (Milo), an intelligent canine that resembles the same pet dog her grandmother had decades earlier who she believes miraculously saved her from a tumor that almost claimed her life.

Who would have thought that at 31, Geronimo would be able to portray a role that requires such childlike innocence without coming across as too annoying or trying hard? Unforgettable will forever occupy a bright spot in her filmography full of mainstream love team fodder and jukebox soap operas. As Jasmine, she captures that unique perspective of a special child all while hitting the right notes as far as the humor derived from the character’s brutally honest observations is concerned.

Pareño and Mina also shine in their supporting roles, highlighting the value of family through their sincere performance. Molina as Chuchay also serves as a good sidekick for comic relief, while Imperial does what she can with such little that she is given. It’s a girl power ensemble indeed and with the absence of a love team subplot, we get a mainstream feature that is a breath of fresh air in a mainstream landscape that is full of formulaic romantic comedies and faux indie offerings.

The existence of the dog as the other lead character feels like a throwback to another Jun Lana feature, that with the late Eddie Garcia entitled Bwakaw. Dealing with canines and their owners, both movies offer a simple narrative, a plain storyline that banks on plot development and character evolution to come up with a satisfying audio-visual experience. Perhaps it is this shying away from mainstream tropes that serves as Unforgettable’s strength as well as its weakness.

That the box office appeal of the movie seems non-existent is a testament to how simple yet heartfelt stories are better off appreciated in the indie scene during festivals than in the mainstream where the audience expects more entertainment value through flashy presentation and cheap gimmicks. Unforgettable opts for subtlety instead and in so doing will end up finding a niche audience at least, in lieu of box office success. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, to be honest.

As already mentioned, Unforgettable is a breath of fresh air for mainstream Philippine cinema. The simple storyline and heartfelt performance of its cast make it an enjoyable watch. It doesn’t hurt that it also aims to impart values through its narrative all while having fun with the subtlety of its humor as well as the many cameos from stars from both indie and mainstream cinema. As naive as that might sound in today's world, there will always be enough room for such stories that remind us that being nice can be beneficial for the world.

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