Till My Heartaches End (Jose Javier Reyes, 2010) November 1, 2010Posted by Richard Bolisay in Noypi.
Written and directed by Jose Javier Reyes
Cast: Kim Chiu, Gerald Anderson, Desiree del Valle, Matet de Leon
This love affair with mainstream movies never wears me out. This faith in happily ever after, this fascination with love teams, this attraction to the many simulations of love: a love lousily interpreted, a love poorly manufactured, a love sloppily written and directed, a love that betrays itself, a love so movingly imperfect, upsettingly true, and unconditionally warm that no matter how false, faint, and fucked-up it is I just don’t have the nerve to push it away. These movies still brim with hope, reveling in their poor and pleasant fantasies. Or maybe not. Nevertheless, who would’ve thought that adjectives corresponding to “many-splendored” are close to infinity?
So, there I was:
I see the crowd waiting for the couple to arrive, scrambling for space behind the fences, their eyes dilating with anticipation, begging for entrance yet knowing that such behavior is impudent, unacceptable. They can’t speak of wanting to enter: that’s irreverence, absolutely forbidden. Staying there is enough—one hour, two hours, it doesn’t matter—as long as Kim and Gerald walk on that carpet, wave their hands, and give them a passing look. Not even a meaningful glance at their direction, not even a smile—that’s gluttony. Yet when Kim and Gerald come in, they shower the crowd with numbing kindness. They hold each other’s hand, smile thriftily, and open their mouths to speak. Roused by the furtive sound of ammunitions, I hold onto my ticket, listen to the ambient screams, and run for cover. On this side of the world, I realize, holding a premiere night ticket to a Kim Chiu-Gerald Anderson movie is enough to put my life at stake.
Singing contests—of course. Everyone has fantasies of fondling a microphone. I was afraid this time would come, yet the voice knows no fear; I wasn’t prepared to face this kind of hurting from within, a flinch after making the connection between to face and from within, a mental image of someone throwing up; I have learned to live my life beside you, a change of tense, and that weakness to find a verb that identifies life aside from live; Maybe I just dream of you tonight, and if into my dreams you come and touch me once again, what difference does a preposition make; I’ll just keep on dreaming till my heartaches end, a brutally brilliant line, what with that orthographic balance between “I’ll” and “till” (notice the two l’s), and the ease of delivery, as if the degree of difficulty among “keep”, “heartaches”, and “end” is inconspicuously the same. My favorite Ella May Saison song is not “Till My Heartaches End” but “If the Feeling is Gone,” a lovely tune whose piercing lyrics also fit the romantic biography of Kimerald, particularly the last two lines of the refrain: You know I’ll do anything to make you stay, But I just have to let you go. If. The. Feeling. Is. Gone. Oh, Kim.
Well, to be exact, the fans did not welcome it. They ate it all up. Wolfed it down. Gobbled it up. It is an experience worth writing about, worth sharing with friends, worth relishing from time to time. I look down from where I sit—the place of royalty, as the note on my ticket says—and I see the neon-lit banners of KimNation, the G-E-R-A-L-D acrostic, the tarpaulins, the color-coordinated shirts, and the tittering troupes that hold and wear them, subserviently, blissfully. Not to put too fine a point on it: the fans are more interesting to watch than the film itself. Halfway through Till My Heartaches End I shudder at the thought that this is the only way to watch it—if you fail to catch the movie on the premiere then there’s really no point in watching it at all. I witness how every scene is accompanied by a chuckle, a collective shout, a smoldering swoon, a cacophony of tease. At some point, it’s not even in every scene you hear an applause, but in every shot; from a long shot of Gerald walking towards Kim outside the café to a close-up of his sculpted face or her teary eyes, the fans savor the fancy of the last time, the purportedly final Kimerald movie to grace the silver screen. There is not the slightest hint of farewell or a pinch of regret. Moreover, you can imagine the fun and anxiety every time Lea/Bea’s name is mentioned. It’s as if a bottle of muriatic acid is slowly being opened and its content is about to splash someone’s face. Any minute. Really.
All of these are not meant to mislead you—because you, the ordinary moviegoer, who cringe at cheese and blind professions of romance, will likely let this pass. If you are not a Kimerald fan, you may have to hold onto your wits very hard if you wish to survive their movies. The Kimerald plot in First Day High is the weakest in Mario Cornejo’s movie. I’ve Fallen for You is beyond atrocious. Paano na Kaya, however, marks an improvement, but that I am not completely sure of because all I remember, despite the fact that it was released only a few months ago, is that it is a special course on the appreciation of Gerald Anderson’s body (oh wait, make that physique), the towel scene possibly going down in the history of Philippine movies—mark my word—as this generation’s definition of hot wet sex without the need for tits or thrusts, only Gerald’s naked body and his forests of heavenly armpits. Looking back, Kim and Gerald’s most effective team-up is not actually in a movie but in a TV show: My Girl. It’s a remake of the hit Korean series, a massive failure from midway to end, but has moments of hilarious luster. The writers were not able to sustain the humor—god knows what got into them—but in My Girl I saw Kim and Gerald’s potential individually, and thought they were more comfortable delivering punch lines than doing drama. Just a piece of advice, though, before I set up a shrine: Gerald—please—stop the gorilla acting; and Kim—please—look up the word “nuance” in the dictionary.
Joey Reyes still has the Oro, Plata, Mata mania for overkill—the surfeit of self-pitying dialogues, the need for “big” moments, the mistaken idea of believing more in himself than in the material. In short, he remains very pleased with himself. Much too pleased, in fact, that his recent movies are tasteless and out of control. To be fair with him, they reflect the values of their time, hence Agnes’ predicament in Till My Heartaches End: Paano kung by next week, hindi pa rin niya ako i-text? O tawagan? To which I respond, Gunaw na mundo mo, teh? The movie wants us to believe that what passes for conflict is equivalent to: Paano kung by next week, wala na tayong makain? O matirhan? Mind you, I haven’t written a good script in my whole life, but at least I know my sense of reasoning from my sense of vanity. Joey managed to maintain the mold of these two characters, which, to be unfair with him, is the only thing necessary for a Kimerald movie to work. No work and all play makes Joey a dull boy.
Gerald always plays the male chauvinist pogi (If I leave her, papaano na siya?) and Kim the dumb-sel in distress (Ayaw mo na ba sa ‘kin? *pause* Hindi mo na ba ako mahal? *pause* Kung mahal mo ‘ko, bakit mo ‘ko iiwan? *tears eventually fall*). Everything in Till My Heartaches End looks fine except that Joey forgot to write a script. In his mind is a good story. On the screen is a mess of uninspired, half-baked sequences. His conceit is dangerous, and what’s more frightening is that he will never realize this, because like some of our biggest-earning mainstream directors, he will always be encouraged to make the same movies, and, lamentably, he will always be thought great. But what can I say? Kimerald charms. Kimerald works. Kimerald still wins me over. Till My Heartaches End doesn’t, doesn’t, doesn’t. Frankly, I give a damn. I deserve more for my madness. This tornado loves them.