Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I Love You, Goodbye

First things first. Let me clarify that this is not a movie review.

This is what I have resolved not to write once I stepped out of the movie house, with my face furrowed with a mixture of disdain and disbelief. Besides, it's not even an hour's worth of writing!

But you are now, you say.

Again, this is not a review. I write this on behalf of my responsibility as an intelligent viewer and a graduate of Filmmaking in U.P. Diliman. I do this because I’m a concerned citizen.

Sure, just like everyone else who paid the expensive tickets, I was deceived that the film, though in its obvious commercial/mainstream value, still has a great story to tell. I also felt it was interesting to see how Angelica Panganiban's thespian skills have evolved since Santa Santita. And yeah, it didn't hurt Derek Ramsey is such a catch!

In the film, Angelica Panganiban is Leizl, a coffee shop barista living in with Dr. Adrian (played by Gabby Concepcion). Adrian is a rich man, soon to be divorced to his ex-wife, played by Angel Aquino.

Early on in the film, the all-too-familiar theme of economic status difference is revealed. Adrian's mom is the quintessential matriarch, who thinks poor Leizl is just after her son's money. Boohoo. Leizl appears to carry on, believing that Adrian's love is enough, even as Adrian's daughter Issa (Kim Chiu) apparently loathe her and did not waste any screen time to show her predictable bratty, attention-hungry portrayal.

But hang on, viewer! This is not the story altogether. Surely, there's a twist. And sweet and obedient as Leizl is (like a puppy on her sugar daddy's lap!), a poor girl like her certainly has ghosts in her closet. In a long, seemingly unending, distasteful flashback, we find out that two years ago, Leizl was madly in love with Gary (played by real-life boyfriend Derek Ramsay), a struggling, lower-class and blue-collared worker like her. They were happy and had the grandest plans for a bright future ahead. In a few days, they were off to work in a cruise ship, to earn lots of moolah. Only one test to go and they were off. Unfortunately, Leizl wasn’t able to jump off the boat out of an anxiety attack. Gary is furious and leaves for the cruise ship, without even saying goodbye. This left poor Leizl heart-broken and lonely.

Without even attempting to heal on her own, Leizl finds solace in the arms of Adrian, who, coincidentally is the doctor who treated her for her anxiety attack (note that Adrian was a heart surgeon in the film. To the writers, did you actually do some research?).

When Gary comes back to the Philippines for Leizl, our protagonist is torn between him and Adrian. It is in these parts that I find Leizl's characterization offensive. At first, she was seemingly loyal to Adrian. But when Adrian became aloof and cold-hearted to her one day, Leizl was quick to jump ship and have sex with her ex. When both men propose marriage to her, Leizl chooses Gary over Adrian.

I Love You Goodbye is portraying a Filipina heroine as someone who is subordinate to men, and relies her happiness and identity to men. Shown as weak, fickle and impulsive, Leizl is an object that men compete for. They brandish their shiny cars, riches and diamond rings to win the woman's affection and eventually, love. And yes, a woman's woes and aches can be erased when the church bells ring and a man finally marries her.

When Gary doesn't show up at their meeting place to elope, Leizl is again a mess. But, well, there's a guy waiting for me at home, Leizl thinks. I might as well marry this guy.

Just as the film was about to end with Leizl's conlusion to marry her "second choice, it is revealed that Gary died on his way to meet Leizl. And Adrian was the informant who reported his death. I guess this is the part they say the film resembled Unfaithful. Leizl confronts Adrian, who confesses that he knew for some time about Leizl's affair. That in his jealousy, he confronted Gary to walk away and leave him and his future bride alone. But in an illogical, hilarious and contrived twist of fate, Gary is ran over by a speeding car.

And for the final blow of it all, I Love You Goodbye concludes with a happy ending. A utopian world, that might as well have been a scene in twilight zone, where all is forgiven and forgotten.

And love simply conquered all, smoothing out the edges, erasing all the evil in the world.

The characters can smile all they want, but it cannot fool me and the rest of the moviegoers. Again, Star Cinema shows us how their cowardice in telling genuine stories and reflecting the realities of life.

Instead, their example and the rest of the rotten films of MMFF 2010 are constant insults to the great films produced in MMFF in the past. Remember Mike de Leon’s “Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising” (1977) and “Kisapmata” (1981), Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala” (1982), Lino Brocka’s “Ina Ka Ng Anak Mo” (1979), and Chito Roño’s “Dekada ’70” (2002).

Wake up, movie big wigs! It's time to put your money and influence to good use. Revive Philippine Cinema's golden era now!

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