Earnest, committed portrayals make Angel-Lloydie rom-com viewableBy Nestor U. Torre
Angel Locsin and John Lloyd Cruz’s new “more adult” rom-com, “Unofficially Yours,” breaks some of the “rules” of its film type, like slowly but surely settling up its love story, so that viewers can empathize with every step of the lead couple’s romance, up to its final, blissful climax and apotheosis – which is usually a big wedding.
That may work for most rom-coms, but Cathy Garcia-Molina’s new film turns the tried and tested format on its head – by starting with Angel and John Lloyd in the full throes of a one-night stand! The “shocking” or at least surprising scene explains the flick’s “more adult” tag and marks at least an uptick in the screen couple’s continuing process of “maturation.”
It works better for Angel than it does for Lloydie, because his relatively soft and “healthy” physique is not exactly the stuff of which “bolder” bed scenes are made, or made for.
Still, we credit both for being “game” enough to add bite to their previously safe screen “exposure” (literally). Some other popular stars would have balked at the “edgier” challenge, so hats off to the two for their guts – or gumption.
After that “hot” opening sequence, the characters go back to being strangers – until, by some corkscrewy twist of fate, they find themselves working in the same newspaper office!
John Lloyd is clearly smitten, but Angel doesn’t reciprocate because, we find out in due time, she’s been burned by the fickle flames of love, so one-night or one-month stands are fine with her – absolutely no commitments, please!
John Lloyd grudgingly agrees to the rather cold and utilitarian arrangement – but, viewers may be less amenable to it because, just a few months ago, they watched another movie about a hard-hearted girl (“My Cactus Heart”), so perhaps they can’t be blamed for wondering why they’re being given much more of the same so soon.
After dealing with that momentary downer, however, the viewer can still find interesting things in the film to keep watching. For one thing, the two leads’ portrayals are nothing if not earnest and committed.
Still, John Lloyd looks a bit too mature for his role. So, when he occasionally indulges in pa-cute and “pang-kilig” antics, they come off as rather forced and inappropriate.
Angel comes off better but she, too, is limited by her tense way of delivering her lines, at times even through clenched teeth. If this is motivated by her perception of the unhappiness of the character she plays, it’s a distracting rather than clarifying gambit.
Penultimately, the movie reveals the details of Angel’s previous love trauma, but the sharing comes too late to be truly useful. Another limitation is that her former lover is played by Patrick Garcia, whose vague performance adds little to our understanding of the issues.
Finally, Angel’s last-minute change of heart is caused by a plot play that is patently unlikely, because no newspaper would allow itself to be used for such personal, self-serving purposes.
All told, “Unofficially Yours” has more going against rather than for it – but, the leads’ committed portrayals keep us hoping for the best – up to the final fade.
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