Friday, August 28, 2015

A Love Affair (2015)

Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta team up in a movie about a family that became stronger after trying times threatened its dissolution.

Of course, that's not how the movie was marketed. The teasers just highlighted the involvement of Bea Alonzo's character as a homewrecker and Dawn's character as the martyr wife trying to save her marriage. And that brought people to the cinema.

One evening, Krishna, Jojie, and I trooped to the cinema to watch it. I knew I was in for a really good movie (although I am not into drama) because it's top-billed by three of the most bankable actors in the Philippine movie industry. And I was right!

What I really liked about the movie was how well-developed and believable the character were. The husband and the wife were on shaky ground because one of their children died and they never had closure: the wife blamed the husband for the death and buried herself in her business ventures while the husband never got around to forgiving himself. So although they were showing the image of a happy couple (Stepford wife-ish to a T, even), their marriage was about to crack.

And crack it did when the husband met a young woman who also was facing her demons. They found a kindred spirit in each other and decided to be in a relationship, albeit the young woman knowing fully well that the man was already married. But as the cliché goes, the husband always went home to the wife even if the marriage was on the rocks... And this drove the young woman to act crazy because of all the mixed signals emitted by the husband. The wife eventually confronted the young woman with such class and poise that the audience felt so sorry for the young woman and cheered on for the wife. She even confronted the husband with grace and generosity that could break even the coldest of hearts. Realising what he could lose in the process, the husband manned up and the couple worked to solidify their relationship. The young woman found catharsis in the end as well.

I enjoyed watching the film despite the drama and the stress it caused because the actors played their roles so beautifully. In fact, I thought that the Bea-Dawn confrontation scene is well up there with the Pinoy movie classic: Sharon and Cherie's copycat scene. However, I'm not sure that I thoroughly liked what I saw about "real life" through the lens of the filmmakers. For instance:

- The husband, though in the centre of this sordid mess, acted like a puppet pushed and pulled by the throes of emotion of two women. I felt that the movie didn't put fault on the guy for takin on another woman. Yes, he was villified for the child who died. But it seemed to me that the story implied it was perfectly okay for him to cheat on his wife. 
- It's okay for the husband to have a mistress but the wife was punished for having her own life, her own friends, and her own source of income. I felt that this was highly unfair. The wife wasn't allowed (or didn't take the chance) to grow professionally because the husband (cheater that he was) was jealous of one of her colleagues... Enough to prevent the wife from going on a business trip. What, she's expected to let her life revolve around her family and her husband only? And then she, in a most expected move, had to play the martyr and let the husband go... kindly. It reflected on how much the husband valued the wife (not much) and how much she grew to value herself (from almost zero to a more dignified level). I feel that this was the redeeming part of the movie. She came to value herself.
- The mistress in this movie was played to the stereotypical hilt. She came into the picture knowing full well that the guy was married and she had the gall to claim him as hers. What, she's playing emotional tug-o-war with the wife? And the crazy moves she did... Those were just plain scary. I was so happy to see her put in her place by the wife. 

The movie was a good one. But I hope that this is the last on mistresses. Probably to find another angle about husbands and wives, moviemakers put on films, one after another, about third parties, other women, cheating spouses. Because they sell. Seriously. At the risk of influencing the younger audience. How can children get positive values if Filipino movies with themes like this keep popping up? Or if kids see the tv teasers and billboards of these movies?