Friday, November 05, 2010

Film Review: Till My Heartaches End

.:Film Review: Till My Heartaches End:.

It’s as if I went on pilgrimage!

Till My Heartaches End
Misspelling your title is only the first thing wrong about this movie...


Last weekend, I decided to pass up on an M:TG tournament because I had a more important thing to do, and that was to watch a Kimerald film with one of my best friends, Clair Ching.

You see, when I caught Paano Na Kaya earlier this year, I have come to expect a certain level of quality from Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson, acting-wise. It’s not like I was searching for FAMAS-worthy performances from the two, but I was expecting that my suspension of disbelief wouldn’t be shot down in flames while watching their story unfold.

Prior to the movie being released, there was a major controversy going on when Gerald Anderson and Bea Alonso both received death threats because the former finally admitted that he is in a relationship with the latter, thereby proving once and for all that the Kimerald pairing is purely a professional pairing now, and there is no actual relationship between Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson. Bizarre, possessive fans that the Kimerald fans are, they practically demanded that the two people get together – or else. Whether this does or does not play a role in the success of the movie is beside the point, but with all of this going on behind the scenes, I couldn’t help but look at the movie through a less rosy pair of glasses.

First of all, even if it has ended up becoming acceptable usage to say “till” when you mean the contraction of “until,” I still find it incredibly jarring because the last thing I expect to do with a heartache is to take after it with a hoe. When the story opened with a not-so-subtle attempt at eliciting “creativity” by being non-linear akin to 500 Days With Summer, I was already wary, because this was one particular movie that did not need to be told in a non-linear fashion. In fact, doing so only enhanced what was clearly a paltry attempt at artistic value, and what little of this the film had going for it was quickly squandered as the story continued to unfold.

This was the tale of an illegitimate son with daddy issues in Powie, and a province girl trying to find her way in the big city in Agnes. While I would have to admit that the fact that the Agnes character was a nurse leaves a very nasty taste in my mouth (Those who know me would know why.), what was really appalling about this story was that while their interactions and the way the whole thing played out was plausible from start to finish (As opposed to their first official vehicle film, I’ve Fallen For You.), the film was so rote, so predictable, that it was boring. There was nothing about the film that made you want to see how things would pan out: there was nothing about Powie’s telegraphable desire to make himself rich and Agnes’s clinginess to Powie and Powie’s subsequent... well, indiscretions that made you think “whoah, what a shocker.” When you watch the film, it was just a romantic story by the numbers:

1. Boy meets girl.
2. Boy and girl fall in love with each other after a montage of kilig-inducing moments.
3. Conflict arises.
4. Parental issues with one of the characters is addressed.
5. Conflict appears to be resolved.
6. A third party makes the conflict irresolvable.
7. Boy agonizes over leaving the girl because he feels responsible for her.
8. Boy finally leaves girl.
9. They get back together because true love conquers all.
10. Number 9 doesn’t happen because you want to pretend that this film isn’t a romantic movie by the numbers.

The romantic drama has been played out so many times before, but at some point, either some stellar member of the cast, an exceptionally memorable line, or a fresh spin on the rote concept would be trotted out and save the film from complete mediocrity. Unfortunately, this film never once attempted to draw that out. In an eidetic reduction of what it means to be a romantic drama film, they boiled everything down into the core things you expect to find in one, then made it as blasé and as routine as was humanly possible. There was no saving this movie even if Kim and Gerald decided to break character in the middle of the film and propose marriage to each other before returning to the story at hand: this film was so archetypal, and yet it was also bereft of any sense of urgency or heart.

When I saw Paano Na Kaya, even if the best friends as lovers trope has been overplayed to the hilt in the past, the film just clicked not just because of the memorable lines but because the film, overall, felt like it had heart. It had a story to tell. It was a film that new how to tug at the hearstrings, and played to the strengths of Kim and Gerald. Till My Heartaches End took a step in the wrong direction by expecting to get stellar performances from the ill-fated loveteam, only to realize that their limited skill could only take a flimsy storyline so far. The film, for all intents and purposes, was a skeletal outline that required a lot of improvisation to work – a skill neither Kim Chiu nor Gerald Anderson ever possessed to begin with. What we were left was a story you can’t hate, you can’t love, you can’t feel a thing about, because it was just an outline playing itself out in running time, and nothing more.

The best thing about Paano Na Kaya were the memorable lines they had in the film ("Shinota mo ang best friend mo, Bogs!" being the most popular.). This film didn't have anything near that level, although the "Hindi lang tayong dalawa ang tao sa mundo!" elicited a chuckle from me, since I did catch some episodes of that teleserye...

The romantic drama has taken a lot of twists and turns in the countless decades it has been utilized on film. No matter how good or how bad, the memorable ones always knew that there had to be a kind of conflict that felt so urgent and so necessary to deal with that the relationship hung in the balance because of it. Instead, we were met by real life, and we realize that yes, real life is rather boring. The little things that add up to drive a wedge between lovers? It’s as real as it can be. But nobody cares. It’s like having an action movie without throwing a single punch. Or a horror film without a single spine-tingling moment. Or Willie Revillame without a shred of sleaziness in his body. It just felt so toothless and bereft of a message.

As a huge fan of both Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson, I do wish them well now that the mystique of their loveteam has been shattered to pieces. Despite that, I cannot in good conscience say that I liked this film. Other than the open ending, this film just really left me cold, and I know they can do so much better than this because I’ve seen better from them, slurred speech aside. As it stands, this film was an uninspired dreck you’re better off missing out on.

Fun Rating: F
Critical Rating: D+

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