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Death by Artichoke in Cathy Garcia-Molina’s A Very Special Love (2008) August 30, 2008

Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Noypi.

Directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina
Cast: John Lloyd Cruz, Sarah Geronimo, Irma Adlawan

If I were to make a study on how the idea of kilig is projected in Philippine cinema, its evolution or lack thereof, and the model to be used is the factory of Star Cinema movies released in the last ten years, I suppose I would have some trouble in reaching a noteworthy conclusion – – noteworthy in the sense that it could come across a striking argument, something that would elicit change in the boring landscape of mediocre full-length plots that could pass as short films and team-ups forcibly paired by its network, or at least an enlightenment that would lead to that change, no matter how slow, no matter how close to hopeless it is – – of course that’s too much for writers, isn’t it? what am I thinking? change? is it even imaginable? – – because as a disturbed viewer of these films, it makes me wonder, in these long years of putting up with the sweet poison, if a certain work lacks substance, what is there to impart to its audience?

Yes of course, the kilig – – the only thing there is.

Ten years is a long time I tell you, and remaining stagnant for that long is not only a sign of a dreadful illness but also of a lifelong affliction that bears resemblance to cholera – – profuse diarrhea, sleepiness, depression, vomiting – – it spreads to everyone and subsequently kills the values of our times. I picture it would be an interesting case study, but interest is the only virtue it has – – like Bob Ong’s books getting read over and over again in the shelf, its pages discolored by dirty little hands and fingers, and when its amused reader finally reaches the last page, he leaves the book, massacred and unsold, he is so amused he carries a smile as he leaves the bookstore. No one is willing to sacrifice a peso – – one thing that A Very Special Love succeeds in implying, that the local publishing is sadly going down the drain.

A website defines kilig as “that certain rush that one feels immediately after something good happens. . . especially pertaining to love(d) ones and relationships.” It is romantic thrills so to speak, a pleasure derived from observing couples who are affectionate, who profess and display their love in public. Cinema is the closest purveyor of this cheap gimmick – – you pay for it to get kilig. The English words shudder and shiver are poor translations, except if you consider the air-conditioning turned to the maximum so you can forget about complaining. But does it always work? Does it always make you feel good? Is kilig worthy of the 120-peso price of admission? (Stupid questions indeed. Rule out the last – – I saw it for free.)

A Very Special Love is marketed as a kilig movie, something really out of the box if Star Cinema’s past releases are concerned because Cruz and Geronimo is not a loveteam (they were together once in a drama program but nothing more than that) – – a multi-million risk to challenge local viewership. But that doesn’t make it any different to its previous offerings. It is still a product of disillusionment that the Lopezes and the Santoses are trying to perpetuate, like a fairy tale romance except the fairy part; the magic is still there, the magical manipulation of events, the magical ending void of surprise, void of anything special, it’s even worthy of a puke.

Okay, so I’m not buying it, the temporariness of entertainment it offers, the stale conflict of the narrative, the drama of the rich, the dreams of the poor, the love that binds them oh how sweet – – but I’m also against the narrowmindedness it promotes, the idiotic values of romance masked by a handsome groom and a happy ever after premise, how it underestimates the heart ­– – the things it can do, the things it cannot do – – its weakness always emphasized in the beginning but how miraculously it succeeds in the end, against all odds, against all wicked stepmothers and stepsisters, again, disillusionment wrongly presented. This kind of deception is lethal, fatal – – not escape but undignified harakiri. I’m not even asking for depth, I’m asking for reasonable values, for not relying all its defenses on make-believe, because yes, these things happen but do these things happen all the time? It gives a lame excuse for hope, and in the grand scheme of filmmaking I deem it blasphemous, downright horrible.

Molina has not made any bad movies; in fact she’s doing just fine. Someone has to do this thing so she’s doing it, like the unlikely hero who has to save the ship from sinking by sinking the other ship – – misguided sacrifice. She stays in the box and gets asphyxiated by her own air. The only consolation is that she enjoys what she’s doing and her movies make a lot of money; sadly in this industry, that’s all that matters. As Star Cinema maintains its stature as the proud chemist of romantic cyanides, she has mixed another one in the open sea to prove that dope, indeed, springs eternal. * *



1. el pistolero - August 31, 2008

“kilig” ~ adrenaline rush to the pinoy heart.

a thought-provoking post. oo nga naman.

2. yoshke - August 31, 2008

tawang tawa ako sa “death by artichoke” na title. hahaha.

ito siguro ang pinakanakakakilig na movie ni direk cathy, pero ito rin yung weakest.

I liked You Are the One and Close To You. I liked this one, too. Pero ang loose and ang weak nung story.

3. Richard Bolisay - September 1, 2008

thanks kirk.

es, well nagiging subjective ang kilig katagalan, nakakaumay bordering on nakakasuka. pero harmless naman. pero yun nga yung point – – yung harmlessness na nagtatago sa kilig. kala mo may sense.

even you got me has its moments – – but the ending is a disaster. close to you, i also like. must be because john lloyd-bea is such a handsome couple, n’est-ce pas?

4. bittergrace - September 2, 2008

Hollywood isn’t doing any better with the romantic comedy genre. I feel the art of the kilig is dying, which is sad, because i do love romcoms. haay. sorry, kasi i just watched Woman of the Year with Hepburn and Tracy. now that was kilig. but the real question is, if I ever borrow this on video, should I watch it in fast forward? haha.

btw, do you plan to watch the richard-kc one? i’ve been hearing some “quotable quotes” and my eyes are already rolling. haha, wala lang. for more supporting tonet. at ba’t wala ka sa tyg premiere?

5. Richard Bolisay - September 3, 2008

good romcoms are quite endangered these days. why is it that even they were made decades ago, classic hollywood romance is still effective? cary grant, audrey and katharine, james stewart, grace kelly, yay. reminiscing.

if you borrow this on video, i bet you will be able to finish it in fifteen minutes. or you can close your eyes while watching and wake up and cause you no trouble.

oh tonet said it was not good, and some peeps told me it was awful. so it’s vox populi vox dei. hehe. naka-14 million naman sila sa opening e. may bonus na yun!

6. the bakla review - September 4, 2008

i love this review.

7. Richard Bolisay - September 6, 2008


8. straycat260 - September 7, 2008

Galing ng rebyu mo Chard. Hanga ako.

9. Richard Bolisay - September 8, 2008

Maraming salamat straycat.

10. neil - September 8, 2008

Hi there Richard! Its me neil from boxofrecollections and ive created a blog for films, if you dont mind linking me to your blog, thanks and more power. POPCORN Delight!

11. Richard Bolisay - September 9, 2008

sureness neil! i linked you up as well. very much welcome. :D

12. roselyn bautista - October 14, 2009

very cute.. hahaha

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