Indecisiveness weighs down Ian-Jodi-Richard starrer
Antonette Jadaone’s “The Achy Breaky Hearts” contains moments of insightful romantic erudition as it makes spot-on observations about the underappreciated joys of being single. But, the movie loses steam halfway through, because it has difficulty sustaining the impact of its thought-provoking premise.
Yes, “interconnectiveness” of the romantic sort is great, if you can get it. But, there are people who don’t need others to define or, in rom-com parlance, “complete” them.
Such a situation becomes increasingly tricky in the case of 30-year-old Chinggay Villanueva (Jodi Sta. Maria), who’s continually being reminded about the urgent ticking of her biological clock.
Chinggay has remained single since she walked out of her five-year romance with two-timing Frank Sison (Richard Yap) seven years ago.
To be clear, being “blissfully unattached” isn’t her status of choice—but, Chinggay nonetheless cannot understand the perception of failure accorded to single ladies who can’t “put a ring on it” after a certain age. Certainly, there’s no such pressure on bachelors, who become more eligible as they age.
But, Chinggay goes from zero to hero when she crosses paths with dashing Ryan Martinez (Ian Veneracion), who has just had his heart broken by his gorgeous ex-girlfriend Martha (Sarah Lahbati), who has chosen to go crazy over Chino (John Spainhour), instead.
Ryan’s needy companionship begins to set Chinggay’s heart aflutter—especially after a wacky stakeout that forces them to share the same bed in a motel room (don’t ask, no spoilers here).
But, just when she thinks she’s fallen in love with Ryan, Frank comes barging back into her life and demands a rematch! Will Tisoy, the new guy, edge out Tsinoy, the old squeeze, in Chinggay’s heart?
Even the movie has difficulty choosing which of the guys gets to ride happily into the sunset with its blushing heroine—a storytelling indecisiveness that considerably slows down the film’s pacing.
The production meanders until it hits a narrative dead spot that conveniently segues into the film’s predictably cheeky epilogue. —Not that it mitigates the loose ends it failed to tie up, or the questions it left unanswered.
The film doesn’t require a lot of thespic stretching for both pairs (Jodi-Ian; Jodi-Richard), but it contains scenes aimed at showcasing Jodi’s dramatic ability—with mixed results. She is adorable when she puts the feisty mask on, but she fails to go beyond what’s kwela.
Her separate kilig sequences with Richard and Ian have their crowd-pleasing moments, but the emotional scenes where she’s torn between them aren’t all that convincing—like the awkwardly staged “dance” number that’s supposed to bring her catharsis.
She has difficulty making sense of where her character’s loyalty lies. (Miles Ocampo, who portrays her pregnant sister, Jenny, makes a good impression, though.)
For his part, Richard is weighed down by his phlegmatic mien—an acting limitation that puts a strain on his time-honed chemistry with Jodi, and makes their scenes lack conflict or tension.
The spark in their chemistry is there, all right—but, the movie fails to utilize and sustain it to make Frank and Chinggay’s “abridged” romance consistently fascinating.
In instructive contrast, Ian does better because his heart-on-his-sleeve vulnerability makes him “relatable” to viewers—especially when he pleads for the attention of the faithless woman who has chosen to seek happiness elsewhere. —But, does that make his character suitable for Chinggay’s love and affection?