Ruel Bayani’s “One More Try” is the melodrama to beat in the ongoing Metro Manila Film Festival, copping the Best Picture award and doing well at the box office, to boot. It stars Star Magic regulars, Angelica Panganiban, Angel Locsin and Zanjoe Marudo—plus fresh import Dingdong Dantes, from the other side of the entertainment pond.
The film can best be described as a “gynecological melodrama,” because it’s all about pregnancy and its various outcomes and permutations.
Item: Angelica, Dingdong’s wife, delivered their child but it died, and the couple have remained childless to this day. Item: Dingdong doesn’t know it, but he has a love child with former girlfriend, Angel. She’s kept the young boy a secret, but she has to tell Dingdong about it now, because their child has a grave illness that she needs his help to deal with. Item: Angel’s current beau, Zanjoe, tries to be understanding and supportive, but the sticky situation sometimes gets too much for him.
In fact, it’s a huge problem for everybody, because the little patient’s life is at stake, and he’s totally dependent on the decisions they make. For Dingdong and Angel, it eventually means having sex to get her pregnant(!), so that she can deliver another child who will eventually be able to supply their stricken boy with the bone marrow he needs to survive and get well again.
—Well, you can imagine how Angelica and Zanjoe feel about that!
To its credit, the film’s scripting is exceedingly eventful, so viewers’ attention and interest are sustained. Trouble is, the dramatic and tragic possibilities of the movie’s central conflict are compromised by the merely melodramatic treatment that it’s generally given by the production and its style of storytelling.
This proves to be a major distraction, because the boy’s potentially tragic fate deserves a deeper mode of presentation. However, due to the movie’s focus on its adult characters rather than on the little boy, tempestuous melodrama has to rule the day.
In terms of performance, all of the four leads are given their “moment,” but Angelica’s portrayal is hobbled by her being too young for the character she’s assigned to play, as written. They try to make her look more mature, but the ploy isn’t successful.
Angel has no such inhibiting problem, but sometimes focuses too much on the externals of her portrayal for it to be as deeply moving as it should. Zanjoe’s character isn’t in on the conflict’s gynecological complications, so he comes off even less pertinently.
In the light of this comparative analysis, the most focused and credible performance is the one turned in by Dingdong. Still, we should note that it is also limited by the movie’s pragmatically melodramatic approach and “attack.”
Other restricting factors include the fussy supporting portrayals turned in by Carmina Villaroel, Gina Pareño and sundry other friends, colleagues and shoulders to cry on.
Despite these limitations, “One More Try” is a technically solid piece of work and thus commands our attention. But, it falls short of being a memorable movie due to its expediently melodramatic intentions—and execution.