Hits and misses in star-studded romantic anthologyBy Rito P. Asilo | Philippine Daily Inquirer
Piolo Pascual won’t find a stranger love triangle to figure in than the one in “24/7 in Love.” In the star-studded romantic anthology directed by Dado Lumibao, Mae Czarina Cruz, John-D Lazatin and Frasco Mortiz, Pascual portrays a thirtysomething simpleton, Pipoy, who comes between the budding love story of his 10-year-old best friend, Jomar (Zaijian Jaranilla), and third grader Ayie (Xyriel Manabat)—who’s infatuated with him! Does (puppy) love hold more weight than friendship?
The tale of the unlikely trio is just one of seven stories strung together by Jane (Kathryn Bernardo) to get a chance to meet the man of her dreams, singing sensation Billy (Daniel Padilla). But, she learns that the family reunion she can’t miss has been scheduled on the day of Billy’s concert!
Jane’s Ate Belle (Bea Alonzo) has a bigger dilemma, because she’s fallen in love with her gorgeous but gay BFF, Butch (Zanjoe Marudo)—who’s torn between leaving for a coveted job in Italy and succumbing to Belle’s not-so-subtle advances! Another story shows how personal assistant Barbara (Maja Salvador) gets her skirt-chasing boss, Ken (Diether Ocampo), to notice her.
From banal to bizarre
The narrative thread goes from banal to bizarre when Pokwang, playing a broken-hearted old maid, attempts to lose her virginity to Charles (Sam Milby), a Fil-Am runaway who turns to prostitution after failing to make it big in Manila. If you don’t find that aberrant enough, wait till it gets to the part where the troubled guy—falls head over heels in love with his client!
As waiter Elvis, John Lloyd Cruz helps Verna (Angelica Panganiban) take a break from her marital troubles as they bask in the exhilarating beauty of Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Is lonely Verna’s rocky relationship with Dante (Coco Martin) worth saving?
The final segment fields Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson’s love team for the swooning set—in a story that casts Kim as Patty, an ad agent who must convince Alvin (Gerald Anderson) to take his pants off for an underwear commercial. Her task isn’t as easy as it seems, however—because Alvin just happens to be the ex-boyfriend she left behind!
As it lurches between melodrama and light comedy, the romantic anthology offers a promising pastiche of quick-paced short stories strung by a novel premise. Unfortunately, its multipronged exposition doesn’t come through cohesively, because its segments are too disparate.
The stellar cast’s performances are compromised by the forced brevity of their segments—which don’t give them enough thespic meat to chew on. Still, some of them turn in note-worthy portrayals—particularly Piolo, whose quietly empathetic characterization is a revelation.
Bea, Zanjoe, Sam, Kim and Gerald also acquit themselves well—as do John Lloyd and Angelica, but they aren’t really required to do much. A notable scene-stealer (as Kim’s order-spitting boss) is Maricar Reyes, who deliciously channels Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”!
The glossy production segues from one deus ex machina moment to another, so it winds up with sequences that, while impressive for their stellar wattage, fail to fully engage—and thus derail the movie’s chances to be truly idiosyncratic, as evinced by its unique premise!
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