You Changed My Life (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2009) March 7, 2009Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Noypi.
Gummy bears, yum yum, I can eat gummy bears all day.
Directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina
Cast: John Lloyd Cruz, Sarah Geronimo, Rayver Cruz, Mikee Cojuangco
To show that thin line between love and stupidity is what good romantic comedies are for. But isn’t falling in love subjecting one’s self to stupidity? This dual existence, just to reiterate, of love and stupidity mocks the self-assuring belief that we human beings are the most intelligent creatures here on earth, that we can decide things fairly with our brain, mind over matter, sanity over madness, passion over narrowmindedness, and seeing over blindness, without losing our grasp on the fleetingness of this world, this world that has inflicted us the pain that only experience can give. While A Very Special Love describes love as a cosmic illusion that is still worthy to pursue, You Changed My Life gets pulled by gravity, stays on ground, and personifies love in its irresistible giddiness and intoxicating sweetness. Definitely this is Star Cinema magic at work.
It takes off from the excess sugar of the first one, picking every bit of sweetness from Laida Magtalas and Miggy Montenegro’s romance, details that cross over the second to remind us of the kilig, the sun dance, the lines from Smokey Mountain’s “Kailan,” which was more cleverly used in the previous, the melting stares, the good-natured raillery, and the smiles of a summer night. The sequel, plot-wise, focuses more on Miggy’s renewed relationship with his family, gaining the trust of his father but still troubled by his brother’s strictness. After the publishing business, he is now assigned as the general manager of their industrial laundry – – common scenario except that it is based in Laguna. That distance, that seemingly unproblematic distance between the two lovers, provides the narrative with a lot of space to roam around, small things that realistically speaking are what makes up a relationship. It sounds like a hollow idea, a simple truth to answer with << there is love in distance! >> but in their world, their rigidly dimensional world which seems to share a reality similar to ours, everything is a matter of time for things to sink in, and for love to come back again.
As it leans more on Miggy’s pressuring career decisions, now it is up to Laida to freshen things and alleviate the seriousness. Her youthfulness, though sometimes can easily be called dumb and cataractous, keeps us lighthearted; her carefreeness, which, again, puts her intelligent quotient way down, is acutely contagious. We can forgive her as long as she gets her man. Her character completes the main character of this sequel – – that while it is Miggy who provides the story its propelling events it is Laida who really touches us, her unrelenting wistfulness, her closed-mindedness, her kagagahan over Miggy who is handsome but stiff, wealthy but incomplete, romantic but paranoid. Aren’t we all attracted to the imperfect? Those damaged, awkward, and irresistibly attractive people? Oh why God created them.
Carmi Raymundo has to speed up the story by conveniently showing a photo-montage in the beginning and the necessary A Very Special Love flashback near the end, which is just wise to pump us with strength to hit our seatmates after the kilig overdose. She also adds elements that range from humorous to ridiculous. Some like the be-be ko ringtone and the number of seconds to kiss turn out to be very effective because they are placed well in the narrative, not just mere quirks of their characters. Laida’s wig is by all means irritating and her clothes are inconsistently attention-grabbing. The blabby officemates are still there; one wonders why they are still employed. An additional character, Cristina (Mikee Cojuangco), Art’s ex-girlfiriend, is quite good. When Art tells Miggy “I don’t want you to be like me. I want you to be better than me,” we understand what better means, what better than him requires. Despite Cristina’s utter grace emphasized by her heavenly dimples, it is difficult not to notice her overdone makeup.
Apparently this is not The Godfather. You don’t have to see A Very Special Love to lead your way to You Changed My Life‘s story. Strange how an unusual team-up, powered only by kilig, turns out to be the most effective pair in recent years. A complete story out of them is barely necessary. Everything about John Lloyd Cruz is comely, his eyes, his gestures, his foolish dance moves, the priceless expression of jealousy on his face, damn, even his heavy eye bags become his asset. He knows his capabilities; he knows how to make good use of them. His maturity reflects on the character he plays; being the worst person to love multiplies the charm. Sarah Geronimo, on the other hand, is made to fit into the role of Laida Magtalas. She can make a green mango taste so sweet, sometimes even to the point of overdoing it. But there can never be anyone to play it better than her; her mix of fun, irritating mannerisms, and lightheadedness is simply delightful. Together, Cruz and Geronimo signify love at present – – or in present tense? – – changing, developing, faulting, building, their love that can never be done, just what true love is.
There is some hint of infinite glorifying in this review, especially when the author decides to end it in choosing a scene that exemplifies his bias on characters that think, people who allow time to overcome them, that when Laida speaks to Miggy in the end, realizing things, and tells him that they have their own separate world, own separate lives, own separate things to do singlehandedly, that they are not one, a thought difficult for couples to accept, and as Miggy mocks their previous ending with another kiss, now on the lips but unseen to us, we don’t have to see it anyway, the cliché mystery of it makes it all cloying yet pleasurable, the self-consciousness drowns with luscious remembrance, the formula still works, and yes, oh how sweet it is to be loved by someone, to be in love with someone and nobody else.