Monday, January 1, 2024

Family of Two


Widowed single mother Maricar (Sharon Cuneta) has dedicated much of her life to raising her only son Mateo (Alden Richards). Now that he is almost in his 30’s and ready to take on life alone, he begins to question her unconditional love even though he is grateful for everything she does for him. When he finally gets the courage to ask his office crush Czarina (Miles Ocampo) out, they immediately become a couple. Issues arise when both of them are offered a lateral transfer to Singapore by their boss. She quickly says yes, but he is reluctant due to his mother. In preparation for such news, he decides that the best way to make the separation less painful for her is to have her continue her life without him at the center of it. And so he creates an online dating profile for her in hopes of finding her a love life. She doesn’t take it well. At first.

Cuneta and Richards must have spent some time bonding prior to filming because they are just so believable as mother and son. Unfortunately, that rapport is bogged down by too much drama. Oh no they are fighting because of the online dating profile, so sad, do you want to cry now? Oh no they are crying buckets of tears while the camera is zoomed too close for comfort on their faces, so sad, do you want to cry now? Oh no we are playing the musical score in full blast because they are fighting and the camera is on extra zoom on their faces, so sad, do you want to cry now? Do these people have no concept of subtlety? Seriously?

That happens a few times. While we can argue that the ordinary Pinoy moviegoer is inherently stupid, it would be much more offensive to assume that they are emotionally inept. Dude, this is a nation used to watching three to four soap operas in a row every night. Training citizens to be emotional trainwrecks is done from early childhood in this country. Do not decide on their behalf when they should cry or not while watching motion pictures. They should know. Anyway, that subtlety is lost in this film, and the end product is a drama that should be endearing, if done right, but ends up unnecessarily too extra to be taken seriously.

As mentioned, Cuneta and Richards have great chemistry as mother and son. Perhaps the characters were really just written to be a bit too extra or maybe it is just their interpretation of their characters or maybe it’s just the director. Who knows. Rest assured that they tone it down a bit as the story moves forward. Ocampo offers solid support and we congratulate her for her Supporting Actress win, even though our personal choice is not her. The rest of the cast are just there as NPCs or plot devices.

If there is one thing we like about Family of Two, it is the path that Maricar decides to take to complete her character arc. Women in this country are mostly reminded from time to time that their success as a human being relies on how faithful they can be to the trifecta of giving birth, raising the kids, and basically giving up their identities for the family, so they can realize their womanhood. And so it is a breath of fresh air for Maricar to be, like, nah I don’t need Tonton Gutierrez’s dick or farm to make me happy, give me a business degree instead.

Just to clarify, we are just celebrating the power of choice by telling people that getting married and annoying your kid until they are senile enough to annoy you back is not the only option you have in life. If you are a proud parent and a single mom to boot, then you will really appreciate Family of Two for the love letter that it is to single parenthood. Of course, kids who grew up in such a household will also appreciate their single moms/dads even more. That message is clear enough. Perhaps, it is just the film’s choice of delivery that comes across as a bit weird, but it still works.

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