A Surprise Esquisse on Softscape Memories in Cathy Garcia-Molina’s One More Chance (2007) November 20, 2007Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Noypi.
Directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina
Written by Carmi Raymundo and Vanessa Valdez
Cast: John Lloyd Cruz, Bea Alonzo, Derek Ramsay, Maja Salvador
Bakit ang cellphone, nalo-lowbatt? Ang bike, nakakapag-break?
Pero bakit ang puso hindi napipigilan?
— Kim Chiu, I’ve Fallen For You
Call me a pretentious snob but I still believe that Star Cinema films are the most difficult ones to write about, if only as a writer I can be spared from too much sugar that turns me into a cripple diabetic, whose emotions are reluctantly stiffened by the absurdity of merely watching them, paying a ticket instead of bringing home a nice midnight snack after a tiring day’s work; for it plays like hypnotism, only I am not hypnotised but fooled. If you find yourself studying the trend of their films from the early 90s up to present, you are caught up in a crisis of fatal déjà vu. You might also be overwhelmed by the unrelenting helpfulness of recycling as a backbone to their commercial strength as a film outfit. Hence it is a tedious task for the writer — considering the millions that these producers are willing to spend just to sell their films, not to mention the customary set up of irritating ambush interviews after the premiere night — to come up with an opposing standpoint, or to at least convince his non-readers (because for sure his loyal readers would be at his side even for a single argument — my fingers are crossed) that these films are nothing but beautiful butterflies in a cheap orchidarium — they are just lovely to look at because they are trapped in their world; once you leave them out, they will wither and die instantly, with just a speck of radioactive particles from a nearby factory.
One More Chance is no exception, but at least before watching the film I know for sure that John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo will save me from a declaration of love similar to Kim Chiu’s immortal lines. These two are higher beings, better actors who deserve better script, and hearing them uttering lines like that might be the end of their careers — that is, to me as a self-confessed fan. On the contrary, I find myself guilty taking so much pleasure in some of the cheese-flavored dialogues: “She loved me at my worst. You had me at my best,” “You had a choice… but you chose to break my heart,” “Malaki lang ang katawan mo pero di mo ‘ko kayang patumbahin,” and my beloved self can’t help but admire the line, “Love is blind… so love me!” Now that’s me when I was in high school.
Way back in Kaytagal Kang Hinintay, which was their first teleserye in ABS-CBN (Alonzo was then a rising star and Cruz a second-rate actor who had his stint in the coming-of-age series Tabing-Ilog), it already shows that the couple will have a huge following. They deliver a certain maturity very much different from the pool of love teams that ABS-CBN is honing — and they are just ripe enough to be given their own soap after that. Yuri and Katrina, such a lovely, self-destructive pair of lovers, are two of the show’s memorable characters which up to this day is only matched by the troublesome and trapped figures of Ely and Jackie in Maging Sino Ka Man. It clearly established them as household names, considering the ratings that their station needed to hurdle against its closest network competitor, and there’s no reason not to make movies out of them, now that they are popular, now that they are still popular. The films that followed — My First Romance, Now That I Have You, Close To You, All About Love, and including One More Chance — are nothing but commercial ventures, void of power to display their cinematic vigilance, and again Star Cinema is putting great talents into waste. To fans like myself who don’t easily get satisfied with flowery love stories without the bang — themselves cardboard caricatures of stupid atrocities of love — these films cringe with disappointment, and the depth that these two talented actors deserve is lost in the eyes of capitalism. This is sadly the plight of young actors these days: they resolve to the money-making scheme of their networks, giving them poor storylines and nothing but a repetition of their previous roles. Furthermore, these actors resort to sexy projects and daring roles to mark the turning point of their careers, as if it’s the only option to attract the attention of the viewing public. And you would always hear them say, I want something new in my career. I want them to show the diversity of roles that I can do. I am no longer the pa-sweet (insert name) they know. I don’t want them to get tired of me. And yet we’re still tired of you, darling, strutting your stuff as if they are not sucked by tubes.
In those two teleseryes — Kaytagal Kang Hinintay and Maging Sino Ka Man — John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo showcase head-blowing performances that paved their ways to stardom. For years, they prove so effectual they remind me of Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos in their heyday, in exemplary films like Relasyon, Broken Marriage, and Ikaw ay Akin — the only difference is the intelligence of the material and the competence of the visionary who directs them. On a positive note, One More Chance leaps to a much-needed improvement, to a maturity that demands to be achieved, and despite the improbability of a twentysomething couple getting huge architectural projects at their age, it stretches their boundaries as prolific actors (though not as much as I would expect from them) and provides them room to do things they haven’t done before because realistically speaking, couples that last for more than five years do have sex once in a while, right?
There is relatively nothing new in this film; it works on a similar framework that Star Cinema uses in every film they make: stereotypical characters and plots, resolved closures, the glossy look, and the idea that everyone who doesn’t have a lovelife is a retard, damn retard — really nothing we haven’t seen before. And Cathy Garcia-Molina is not to blame for this because it is a producer’s film. The emotional tools are so weak they can’t even build a strong foundation, and after a while we are nauseated by too much sweetness; our optic nerves are in pain and our medulla oblongata is confused because this detection of feelings is very much like a hundred years ago, why, my dear Lord, nothing has changed, and whoever said that catharsis is only for great films — in fact, the sudden purge of emotions weakens my knees and eventually my stomach, as I knowingly surrender my 130 pesos just for this lame guilty pleasure. * *