The first thing you have to know about Star Cinema's The Mistress is that it is two hours long. The second is that the film does not feel bloated despite this long running time, particularly because of the strong performance of its main cast.
The Mistress tells the story of Sari (Bea Alonzo), an optimistic suit maker who works hard for her large family. When she meets JD (John Lloyd Cruz), a drop-dead-gorgeous hotshot architect, she strongly rebuffs his offers for a date. What JD does not know is that Sari is a secret mistress of a rich benefactor named Rico Torres (Ronaldo Valdez).
It is this complex story that lets the actors release their proven talent. John Lloyd is cast against type. Instead of the good-guy roles he usually plays, his JD is an angry man whose motives for wanting women is shady and exploitative. This changes when JD gets to know Sari, but it was fun to see John Lloyd portray a cocky, aggressive guy in the film's first half.
John Lloyd has mastered the art of the smoldering stare. Even the mundane act of measuring one’s suit becomes a sensual scene as Bea stretches her measuring tape against John Lloyd’s body.
Bea sparkles in every scene, and it's obvious that the camera loves her. Her role as a humble and silently suffering woman is nothing new to her, so it's not surprising that she nails it. She also has no qualms about doing daring scenes, including giving kisses to Ronaldo and doing a brief bed scene together.
It's also surprising to see Bea's aggressive side as her character tries to seduce John Lloyd in a pivotal scene in the film.
She effectively differentiates the double life that she leads: one as a simple, responsible family member and the other as the "dirty little secret" of an old man.
Ronaldo Valdez is believable as a sad but controlling man who takes in a mistress. Hilda Koronel plays Ronaldo's wife, and her depiction of a wife being cheated upon is downright affecting.
Anita Linda shines in comic situations as well tender moments with her granddaughter (played by Bea).
There are some continuity errors that can be spotted in the film. In one scene, Bea is cleaning a window, and in the next moment, the soap suds magically disappear.
Cinematography, meanwhile, is uneven throughout the film. While some scenes are beautiful, like the wedding scene shot in the Callao Cave in Cagayan, there are sequences that are either underlit or too bright. In one scene, Hilda Koronel is drinking a lot of alcohol, but the lighting makes her skin look pale and sickly. Drunk people should be flushed red.
These factors, however, will not deter viewers who want to watch the film that marks the 10th anniversary of John Lloyd and Bea as onscreen partners. The loveteam's strong performance in The Mistress is compelling enough for people who want a good cry.
The Mistress tackles a taboo topic in society: the querida, the kabit. This movie casts a sympathetic look at someone who agrees to be a kept woman in exchange for a huge debt.
But far from glorifying the mistress, the film delves into the heartwrenching pain brought about by being caught in this four-sided love affair.
The Mistress is directed by Olivia Lamasan, and produced by Star Cinema. It is rated PG-13 by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board and graded B by the Cinema Evaluation Board. It is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
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