Star Cinema’s (post-)Valentine offering this year tackles a very familiar territory that involves the country’s top notch box office director Cathy Garcia Molina and the premier leading movie star actor John Lloyd Cruz. The difference this time is that he’s paired with one of the country’s top female actresses Angel Locsin. One might think that it’s a rip-off of Friends with Benefits based on the trailer, but I’ve always learned to never judge a movie by its trailer.
Mackie (John Lloyd Cruz) is a guy who’s willing to change everything and anything once he thinks that he already has the love of his life. Ces (Angel Locsin) is a free spirited girl who doesn’t believe in commitments. After a one night stand happened between these two strangers, imagine how awkward it is to find out that Mackie’s mentor in his new work is Ces. What happened after involves a lot of sex, some promises, sex, broken promises, and oh did I mention.. sex?
While others might say that this has a been-there-done-that feel with the friends with benefits topic, what I like about the film is that it stayed true to its intentions. It featured the highs and lows of that scenario, and it never attempted to feel that it’s above or beyond that. It also contained probably the best balance of comedy, romance, and drama in a long time. Cathy Garcia Molina’s direction was slick, and I’m noticing that she’s starting to let go of her usual trademarks such as the under the rain confrontations, female characters wearing wig and the likes. In here, she also tried to be more experimental with colors and lighting and it makes up for an equally appealing visuals. I like how there are many scenes and lines in the movie that are memorable. Whether it’s the sitcom-y feel of Macky’s housemates, to poignant and touching moment with Ces and her mother, it’s the little doses of that which makes this more affectionate and effective as possible.
John Lloyd Cruz is probably the most versatile young actor that we have. He can make you blush, gets you all teary eyed with his serious moments, then laugh with his wackiest antics. If there’s anything that can be faked, it’s his charisma, and from the looks of it, he’s very well adept in that category. Angel Locsin plays the harder character of the two, and she exudes this sexy and vibrant yet vulnerable character with so much passion and enthusiasm that it’s hard not to feel and root for her as well. The movie’s supporting characters, as any local film, has its share of chopsuey cast ranging from necessary to comic to relief to no sense at all.
All in all, this is a more interesting, mature and fresh take into the world of relationships. This is nowhere near groundbreaking territory, but I like it because it’s something refreshing and entertaining as it is something most love-themed movies fail to achieve nowadays.