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Lacking a beating heart

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By Joseph L. Garcia, Reporter

Movie Review
One Great Love
Directed by Eric Quizon

(Warning: Spoilers ahead.)

KILIG” is a concept in Filipino romance that’s undefinable in other languages. We could describe it in parts: the giddiness; the rush when you feel a frisson of emotion for your beloved. Could you call “kilig” butterflies in your stomach? In any case, it won’t matter for this review, because I felt no such thing while watching One Great Love, which to me lacks a beating heart.

Our star Zyra (played by Kim Chiu) works in an organic farm owned by her family. As she quietly treads through the movie, we see her as an unconvincing heroine, as bland and boring as the salads she packs and delivers. Just as well, she probably serves as a vessel for the fantasies of the young woman sure to watch the film. The film’s director, Eric Quizon, also plays her father, and Nina Dolino plays a second wife. Plus points to this movie for showing a good working relationship between a stepmother and her stepdaughter, but that’s all I’m working with so far. I suppose it also sets the tone for what I feel is a very, very deeply hidden secondary arc: it’s been touted as a coming-of-age story, so there’s an introduction to LGBTQ thought, and healthy sex and relationship education — except you really have to strain your ears to catch it.

Meanwhile, Ian (Dennis Trillo), a cardiologist, serves as Zyra’s best friend, and serves as a healer of both the physical and metaphorical heart. Not exactly groundbreaking. Hopes for a deeper relationship and any romantic feeling should be quashed by their fond nickname for each other: “Bes.” Zyra, on a weekend drive, spots her ex (a dashing pilot named Carl Mauricio, played by JC de Vera) and begins a reverie of how they first met and how their relationship breaks apart. Mr. De Vera is as squeaky-clean and bland as Ms. Chiu, and they probably suit each other.

As Zyra and Ian complain about their past failed relationships, they tell each other, “Move on, tanga! (Move on, stupid!).” Several times throughout the movie, I wished I could say the same to the plot. If this movie tried to recreate the empty soulless feeling of the post-breakup, then this movie definitely succeeded. There’s no pulse but there’s a lot of noise: Zyra complains a lot and talks to herself to reflect her thought processes: neither the director or the actress seem to have heard of “show, don’t tell.” I couldn’t even feel a smidgen of anything when Zyra meets her ex at a coffee shop, where they begin to rekindle their feelings. I found it hard to root for anyone, even when Zyra turns on the waterworks. The soundtrack doesn’t help either: it sounds like a piano or acoustic piece played in commercials for tinned milk. The film looked like a special two-parter for a weekend telenovela.

There are two bright spots in the film: Mr. Trillo has at least an inch of charm over his co-stars, but the general similar blandness of his character and his unmemorable lines make him almost as forgettable. He feels like someone I fell in love with slowly then I forgot about quickly. Meanwhile, Zyra’s sister Jemy, played by Miles Ocampo, is at least a passable wit.

Now, Zyra has to make a decision whether to go back to her ex, after he failed her so many years ago. I don’t see why she spends an hour of our time making this decision: Mr. De Vera is too hammy as Mr. Perfect. He’s sweet and all, but if a guy had been that nice, and doesn’t want to talk about our past too much, I would begin to suspect he was trying to stuff me in the trunk of his car. After all this the only rise I got, even after a scene with Mr. De Vera in his boxers rejecting a hooker, was Eric Quizon’s heart attack (which does nothing for the plot), simply because the reason for it is funny: he gorged himself on lechon a Vice-Mayor sent.

Carl promptly trips up as a boyfriend, like he did so many years ago. The movie’s weak pulse is back, just enough to make me want to kick him in the pants. Zyra recovering in a bar and covering her face while crying like a child does not have my sympathy however, and I have more feeling for the Versace jacket she throws up on. As in any movie breakup, the emotional lines are unveiled and everybody has some smart, sensible advice for Zyra: none of which I remember. No matter, it’s probably in some self-published self-help book somewhere. Zyra’s second breakup leads her to fly into the arms of her best friend, Ian, and they confess their love for each other, but I find that their passion (or the lack of it) makes me feel like I’m looking at a friend’s relationship that I can only marginally care about. Lots of very unremarkable things happen — and then she’s married? To Ian? Well, I didn’t see that one coming. And then she’s pregnant. The plot drags on and on for an hour and a half, only for us to receive a triple punch of plot in about 10 minutes. When and how did this happen?

Zyra retreats into married life, where she and her beau still call each other “bes.” Then Zyra’s daughter in the movie dies — and that’s it? Her milestones as a wife and mother are treated no more than an afterthought, and it makes me like our main character even less. Carl swoops in for some action right after Zyra’s tragedy. “This is crazy!,” Zyra shouts in frustration, as did I, watching her step onto a boat with her ex while wearing a floral sundress. This doesn’t make sense anymore and I am willing to stand up and leave by now. This movie, even before its end, has already gone too long. Zyra cheats on her husband, and a shirtless Carl in candlelight still does not make my heart beat. At least it helps marriages: these two don’t make the prospect of cheating even remotely tempting.

She’s caught by her husband, who goes and punches the lover (after which they walk away from each other as if nothing has happened). Zyra and Ian break up and try to get an annulment (the process of which was thoughtfully explained). Zyra runs back to her parents, who gives her the advice to go back to her husband: her One Great Love, the guy who never left her, the guy who was always with her. And so, she goes back to him. The movie lasted a little under two hours, and yet that whole paragraph happened in 19 minutes. Can you imagine how long everything else lasted?

I’m not quite sure what happened there. This movie is great as background noise when you’re doing the dishes on Sunday. It’s like a false lover whispering in your ear: whatever he’s saying, does it mean anything?

MTRCB Rating: PG