Tough row to hoe for Angelica, Carlo
There’s nothing conceptually unique about Dan Villegas’ “Exes Baggage” as it plays out the story of an appealing pair of star-crossed lovers, whose budding romance is threatened by their inability to find closure for their failed previous relationships.
But the “exes baggage” becomes a heavier burden to bear for Nix Cabangon (Carlo Aquino) and Pia Madrigal (Angelica Panganiban) after it develops into a niggling source of irritation, annoyance and torment.
Nix is finding it difficult to move on and fully embrace his newfound happiness in the arms of funny, pretty Pia, because his lovely former squeeze Dwein (Coleen Garcia), who left him high and dry at the altar, is still a frequent collaborator at work.
Jealousy and betrayal
Pia also has a tough row to hoe: She is weighed down by bouts of “unaddressed and underdiscussed” jealousy, as well as her failure to come to terms with ex-boyfriend Migs’ (Joem Bascon) betrayal.
She learned that Migs wasn’t the “uncomplicated” bachelor he initially presented himself to be. So, instead of looking forward to a lifetime of wedded bliss, she realized she was “technically” a mistress who was living on borrowed time!
True, we’ve already seen Nix and Pia’s familiar dilemma tackled in so many mainstream flicks and romantic dramas, but trust “Exes Baggage’s” insightful director (“All of You,” “The Breakup Playlist,” “English Only, Please”) to turn the rom-com genre on its head by way of nonlinear storytelling.
This way, it’s easier to understand how the lovers’ petty spats degenerate into explosive confrontations.
It’s a narrative ploy that gives the production’s been-there, done-that familiarity a continually shifting and shuttling perspective.
It is occasionally discombobulating, but it gets the job done by sustaining viewers’ perfervid interest in the duo’s romantic entanglements. Will their love for each other outweigh their inability to settle their differences?
Finely tuned portrayals
The movie’s storytelling clichés and contrivances would have been harder to take without the finely tuned portrayals of Carlo and the sublime Angelica, who can turn seemingly inconsequential lines into a rich resource for rip-roaring comedy.
“Exes Baggage” is made more viewable by the complementary skills of its lead stars, who make every scene count. They deliver synchronized portrayals that give the “dramedic” romp its crowd-pleasing edge and relatable pertinence.
But, it’s Angelica who truly deserves a special pat on the back for her winking and wisecracking comic zingers, dollops of charm, and “unforced” versatility, as her previous forays into comedy (“That Thing Called Tadhana,” “Beauty in a Bottle”) and drama (“The Unmarried Wife,” “Alamat ni China Doll”) proficiently demonstrate.
We’ve always been fascinated by the self-effacing nature of the loopy but lovable actress’ comedic brand and timing.
She makes the high-wire shifts from drama to comedy—and back again—appear seamless and easy to execute.
As we’ve written many times before, Angelica, along with Bea Alonzo, is her generation’s finest actress—and that continues to be true to this day.
She is consistently watchable and is always at the top of her game. So producers would do well to find wise, clever and productive use for her exceptional gifts as an actress of uncommon depth and unparalleled skill.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.