Friday, February 27, 2009
You Changed My Life (Star Cinema, 2009)
The double-edged sword that plagues You Changed My Life, the new John Lloyd Cruz – Sarah Geronimo-starrer is that A Very Special Love came before it in 2008. At first, I thought it would be hard to top or at least match Laida and Miggy’s chemistry on screen. I feared that Star Cinema will churn out a cheesy, mediocre sequel to appease lovesick hearts this season of despair (the global financial crisis, not Valentines).
But to paraphrase the note on You Change My Life’s first scene - No, Star Cinema won’t do it to us. And they didn’t. (Snippets and spoilers maybe found in this review.)
The film still has the correct ingredients- formulaic, yes, but somehow the general taste seems to have been enhanced. Some flavors have been muted, some new flavors have come to the fore. But at the very least, the movie does not disappoint.
You Changed My Life is six months after Laida, a budding executive assistant in a struggling publication, met and worked for a cantankerous, brooding boss Miggy in A Very Special Love. The latter was won over by his EA’s sweet and positive demeanor, the proverbial beast was tamed, a deal sealed with a frolic and a kiss under the rain.
The same bunch of cookie people is present. Laida’s Flippage/BACHELOR magazine colleagues return, with the same ardor for life and work, but lovingly distracted by their friend’s relationship with their former boss. Their quick-witted quips and antics provide the same real-world lines that populate many an office setting. In a word, Laida’s loyal and often sensible friends are – Adik.
Laida’s family returns as well, albeit with lesser screen time. But despite their limited appearance, their seamless support for her exploits and welcome guidance when she veers off course make them lovable still.
Miggy’s family returns as well- the same business-minded clan, but this time showing more… heart. Miggy struggles to balance this concept- that businessfolk HAVE hearts too- and mistakes profits as the way to earn the love and respect of people connected with the company- workers and management alike.
Here the conflict ensues- between him, his family, their business, and his personal life.
It does not help that a blast from Laida’s past, Makoy, a male best friend comes into the picture.
It does not help that Laida, savoring her first real relationship, is willing to give up everything for Miggy- even dreams of strolling the greener pastures of Canada- in a heartbeat.
It does not help that she expects the same from Miggy.
The film has many, many great moments. However, I checked my phone for calls or messages twice during the movie- which is not a good sign. The film did not capture me right away; again, it suffers from being a sequel. But that is likewise the strength of the film: it builds on what the audience already knows about the characters, a strength ably harnessed by the production team as they unraveled a logical tale.
Logical that Laida has many over-the-top quirks: the irritatingly sweet ringtone, terms of endearment for Miggy, her pre-occupation with this, her first relationship. Give me the name of someone who, in her first real relationship, did not go bonkers this way, and I’d tell you that that person did not love at all. Logical, too, is the fact that her family is a bit worried about her foray into this love relationship.
Logical that Miggy is equally giddy, having discovered someone who loves him just the way he is, sans the need to constantly compete and prove himself. Logical, too, is his transition into a new world of business and the challenge to balance it with his personal life. He asked for it, in a way.
The dialogues, the scenery, the people that fill You Changed My Life give the film a consistent feel, a sense of real-ness to it. In these trying times, we don’t need to be taken to an imaginary, highly-improbable fantasy world where magic happens exclusively. During this brief cinematic sojourn, we are reminded that in the real world, magic (or miracles) can and should be expected to happen, even in the most unusual of places like a Styrofoam cup that says Sorry or after a Power-Hug.
(Watch out for Manang and Tin. They rock.)