The movie delivers what you would expect in a typical Star Cinema film- very Pinoy, very human, easy to relate to. (This review of A Very Special Love contains some spoilers. Proceed if you still wish to do so.)
Positive energy personified Laida tames her cantankerous man of a boss, Miguel “Miggy” Montenegro, the son of an industrialist (Dante Rivero). Miggy struggled all his life to be number 1 in whatever he does in order to erase the shame of being an illegitimate child. Laida enters Miggy’s life at a time when his men’s magazine, BACHELOR, is flailing and holding on for dear life. She becomes his editorial assistant and, through a series of fortunate events, ends up being more than that.
The movie moves fast. The three weeks Miggy has to re-launch his magazine is depicted clearly in the well-crafted scenes relating the rollercoaster life of the BACHELOR staff. There was sensible use of humor, witty one-liners, current lingo, and the proverbial permutations of declaration of love between lovers and among family members. The movie house rang with laughter, sighs, and sniffles, punctuating key scenes in the film with real human emotion.
The entire look of the film is tight, literally and figuratively; there were no sweeping vistas to ogle at. The BACHELOR office was a tiny, Laida’s room even tinier. Settings were almost always the same, as if a metaphor for the cramping misery of Miggy. But the main visual element of the film really has to be on-screen presence of John Lloyd Cruz and Sarah Geronimo. They look good and look good together. I can’t quite explain it; you have to watch it to understand what I mean.
The opening scene revealed a very angry, sarcastic, egotistical Miggy; John Lloyd Cruz disappeared entirely. The goodie-goodie boy has left the building. Miggy’s misery was in your face but not over the top. Similarly, Laida, by way of Sarah Geronimo, is a walking mini-silo of optimism, optimism she consistently effortlessly exuded throughout the film; she does not get tiring. Her fine comedic timing is a revelation.
The BACHELOR staff is an endearing mix of compact characters who move from tackling their monster of a boss to subduing their publication’s competition. Each staff member (ably played by Matet De Leon, Gio Alvarez, Joross Gamboa, among others) contributes a significant gear to the movie’s machinery.
In like manner, the characters in Laida’s family and Miggy’s family maximize the minimal screentime they have. Foremost are Irma Adlwan who played Laida’s mother- shoe magnate and wise counselor; Rowell Santiago, fiscally tight-fisted half-brother of Miggy, and; Dante Rivero, silently suffering but immensely loving father to John Lloyd’s character.
All in all, what I like about the film is its successful attempt to be subtle. The plot is simple, believable. The characters where developed enough to contribute to the story and not muddle it. The lines were human, replete with humor to complement the lump-in-your-throat moments. The minutiae- the chuwaripap in the videoke scene, the pizza merienda, inadvertent peck on the cheek, romping in the rain- all contribute to make the film a gratifying cinematic experience.
You can head home with your heart satisfied, with a silly sheepish grin in your face, thanks to the lovely rendition of Very Special Love by Sarah Geronimo playing in your head and the image of John Lloyd doing the sun dance.
(Photo of official A Very Special Love movie poster is courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Very_Special_Love)