Friday, October 24, 2008

A Very Special Love

By Reymundo Salao

I usually avoid watching movies made by big production companies like Viva, Regal, Star Cinema, Seiko, & even GMA films because most of the movies they produce are the kind of movies that destroy Philippine cinema. Most especially sappy love stories that have titles from popular lovesongs; a long tolerated marketing technique in the local film industry that targets to sell a music album side-by-side its movie counterpart. But once in a while, there are a few projects that come off free from the kind of crap that destroy the reputation of local cinema and manages to be a decent movie. I can sometimes sense a good movie from a bad one through its trailers. And A Very Special Love had me curious about it because of its charming simplicity. And I kind of regretted not having watched this when it was released in theaters. I’m glad that it did not take long till the home video of this movie was released.

On paper, the synopsis of the movie is pretty simple; a young corporate prince who runs a big magazine publishing company is pressured to keep up with the success of the rest of the family, and the simple and charming young lady, who happens to be an employee of said company, who has had a crush on him. And the “patweetums” story of how they fell in love. But the film itself shows some interesting insights as to how their love story worked and made sense. Here’s the character of John Lloyd who always visits the grave of her mother who passed away. He longs for the time when her mother was still around and has felt that she was the only one who really loved him. Now comes Sarah’s character who, by a twist of circumstance and fate, shows John her caring, nurturing and loving side. Of course he falls in love with her, and most especially because Sarah’s cheery side soothed John’s temper in a way much similar to the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast.

The film is never perfect though; it has its flaws. At the turn of its second act, at the themesong sequences, the romantic corniness gets a bit sloppily out of hand. I'm talking about the "I told you to be close to me" scene. Those are among the few scenes that come of as corny. The movie quickly redeems when the love story starts to focus on the corporate family subplot, and with its best scene at the magazine relaunching party. Half of the story deals with John’s inner conflict with how he desperately tries to keep up with the corporate family, in which he is a son from a separate mother. John’s acting in this regard can really invite the sympathy and empathy of audiences. Sarah's character's cheerful baduyness comes off as subtle and realistic. Not too cartoonish like the crappy local Betty La Fea series. Sarah’s acting is quite a sunshine to watch. Her charm really carries the movie effortlessly.

Cathy Garcia Molina is the name of this film’s director and has really caught my attention the way she runs a tight ship on this boat. I immediately searched for some of her other movies, but I still have yet to sit down and watch them. A VERY SPECIAL LOVE is a movie that succeeds in a way that it really tells a story with real human characters. Most big production company movies on the romantic comedy genre always seem to play their roles in an intentionally pa-cute manner; synthetic and commercial. Even though its characters can be cartoonish at times, it never deviates from the storyline and never crosses the line of being a bad movie. It tackles the story without delaying on bullshit while it manges to thrown in its jokes that are really funny. The sequences and the twists of the storyline and the development of its characters get weaved together cleverly. When John’s and Sarah’s characters fall in love, it makes sense and does not feel like a forced pairing. Nothing seems to be just an incoherent coincidence in this movie. If I may also add that it was a smart move to make the film free from steamy love scenes, all we get in this cute romantic movie is a slight smack.

The only other shortcoming that the film has that I could think of, is that the film still feels that it did not maximize on its storyline and could have added more subplots or twists to enrich the movie even more. The storyline calls for interesting subject matters, such as the pressure of office romances, one that is between an employee and a boss. Another thing is that the film never gave a concrete closure to the subplot concerning the corporate family. One would think that John would have succeeded in proving his worth to his family by having the magazine he runs reach number one. Instead we see John quietly accepting his defeat. This ending can also be really impressive because we see the script’s discipline of making the twists and turns as realistic as possible. We may interpret it as John’s happy ending lies with finding the person he really loves, and putting the corporate world on the side for a change.

If you dig romantic comedies, A VERY SPECIAL LOVE is really one of those movies that are worth watching or keeping on your movie collection. Now, I’m wondering if Cathy Garcia Molina’s next film is worth the ticket despite the silly trailers…

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