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Miss You Like Crazy (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2010) March 8, 2010

Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Noypi.
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Directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina
Cast: John Lloyd Cruz, Bea Alonzo, Maricar Reyes, Jun Urbano

The success of Anak may have prompted Star Cinema to realize the viability of producing films that concern overseas Filipino workers. The idea, possibly unknown to them then, would soon provide the platform that would eventually ensure the film studio’s steady grip on the box-office, not to mention the proliferation of a “subgenre” that plumes itself on representing the socio-political struggle of the 21st century Filipino.

But whether it is an accurate representation or not is rarely discussed. Those things are considered impertinent when it comes to the idea of movie-watching. Aside from having a fair enough reason to shoot outside the country, Star Cinema also pride themselves on continuously being “in the service of Filipino”, laying the groundwork for a certain type of films that glorify, directly or not, immensely or casually, our so-called new heroes. Years have passed since Anak and we have come to witness the pageantry—Milan, Dubai, Caregiver, For the First Time, Love Me Again, In My Life—films that are not only about OFWs, but whose titles bear the name of the foreign city where the meat of the story takes place. So much for pertinence, these places only serve as mere backdrops of conflict. They never actually participate. Obviously these films are not made every year because they are costly to produce. But from to time Star Cinema have led us to believe that these “OFW films” are a common staple of their outfit, much like their perennial melodramas and romantic-comedies that star their most-prized TV personalities.

The marriage of these two things makes Miss You Like Crazy “a little exceptional”. Unlike Richard Gutierrez and KC Concepcion in For the First Time or Piolo Pascual and Angel Locsin in Love Me Again, John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo is a far steadier love team. Like the old times, most of their fans are fans of their love team, not just individually, considering they are also paired with other actors, Star Cinema trying to see if the new love team will work, which sometimes does (John Lloyd with Sarah Geronimo in A Very Special Love and You Changed My Life) and oftentimes doesn’t (Bea with Piolo Pascual in Dreamboy, Bea with Sam Milby in And I Love You So, and to some extent, John Lloyd with Luis Manzano in In My Life). John Lloyd and Bea have already proven their strength in the box-office; their talent and chemistry are always regarded as their edge against other onscreen couples. Suffice it to say, theirs is the best love team around, bar none.

But it seems that the writers want to stretch things out for them. Less than half of Miss You Like Crazy is shot in Kuala Lumpur, and less than half of that “less than half” matters at all. Aside from that killer metaphor of the Petronas Towers as lovers holding hands, there really isn’t any grave connection with Malaysia at all, unless we consider Bea’s Malaysian boyfriend relevant. He could be a Filipino anyway—older, darker, less charming, and has a snotty kid—and the narrative couldn’t care less. But that is completely missing the point. Star Cinema appropriate these places and these people—the Aegean Sea in For the First Time, the New York metro in In My Life, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, and the foreign races their characters chance upon—as part of the Filipino experience, relating to every Filipino life. In Star Cinema’s world the Filipinos are cosmopolitan—the Filipinos are global. We should always keep up with the world or else we die, poor and loveless.

But this “global” thinking purports the biggest deception of all: that the foreign country is mere distance. In Miss You Like Crazy, Kuala Lumpur is just a place outside Manila; the Petronas are just tall buildings not in Makati; Ina Feleo and Ketchup Eusebio are friends that just happen to work in a five-star hotel; and so on and so forth. They just have to set it in Malaysia to achieve that global aspiration. With local mainstream films—not just with Star Cinema in particular—new does not mean fresh; but new always means recent. That “fresh“ and “novel” meaning of new is already obsolete. Asking what’s different by asking “What’s new?” is like saying “Lick your own dick”. The only thing new in Miss You Like Crazy is that it is a new film, Star Cinema’s latest offering, new John Lloyd and Bea movie, nothing more.

There are things that do not escape notice though. It is not incidental that the last time we see Maricar Reyes is when she asks John Lloyd, “Are you breaking up with me?” which I think is the most affecting line delivered in the movie; or that Bembol-fucking-Roco is reduced to a vegetable; or Tirso Cruz III is more heard than seen when he raises a toast. That utter disregard for conventions is unforeseeable, which upon reflection only invites pointless discourse. By assuming that Star Cinema are brushing off common expectations, are they also being innovative? Does that pass as radically new? Or is it more of a scriptwriting disease?

Here comes the first person point of view: I think what makes Miss You Like Crazy a better film than One More Chance is that unlike the latter, it takes a whole lot of risks by losing its share of “kilig” moments. That by taking away that confection, that rush of sweetness they have already proven themselves capable of in their previous films, we realize that John Lloyd and Bea can also bore us, that they can not be lovers but pawns of the “global image” that Star Cinema keep on perpetuating. No question, they blew it—but by keeping out of their comfort zones we see more of them, we learn more about them; we see them lock lips very passionately and have sex like adults (though in an old-musty-and-falling-apart house where an aircon is out of the question, how come they did not sweat after sex?) Weakness has always been a virtue. The romance part is as recycled as any recycled story can get; but the way that it’s presented, the way that it strikes me like washing my hair after pouring the whole bottle of conditioner on my head, without applying any shampoo at all, it is just difficult to rinse everything about the film off. It will take a whole month supply of water. Therefore, just to end this without further nonsense, my dear patient, how about a follow-up after a month?

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