Last year, promising young actress Sue Ramirez was one of the most pleasant surprises of the second Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino with her memorable portrayal of the title role in Jun Lana’s Ang Babaeng Allergic sa WiFi.
Although the film itself received mixed reviews, Sue’s performance as a social media-obsessed millennial who developed a rare condition that made her “allergic” to radiation emanating from WiFi signals was generally well-received by both critics and audiences.
Now Sue returns to the PPP, with an even more challenging role in Rod Marmol’s Cuddle Weather.
In this unusual romantic-comedy, Sue plays Adela Johnson, a seasoned prostitute who is moving up in her “industry” but has a self-imposed deadline as to when she will “retire” from her profession and start a new and decent life.
Then she meets Ram (RK Bagatsing), an aspiring seaman who while waiting to be “onboarded” had to resort to prostitution to provide for his immediate family.
Following uneventful trysts in adjacent motel rooms with their respective clients, Ram realizes that Adela knows all the tricks in the trade and wants to learn from her.
She reluctantly agrees to be his “senpai” (the Japanese term for mentor) and agrees to be her roommate as long as he occasionally cuddles her in bed without the sex. She even paid him for the first cuddle. But the more time she spends with Ram, the more they start caring for each other and become more than just roomies.
Written and directed by Rod Marmol who previously directed the little-seen Matatapang for the CineFilipino film festival last year, Cuddle Weather is also produced for Regal Entertainment and Project 8 cor. San Joaquin by rom-com specialists Antoinette Jadaone and Dan Villegas and it shows.
Being a comedy, Cuddle Weather takes a light approach in its depiction of the so-called world’s oldest profession. It may even be partly inspired by the now Hollywood classic, Pretty Woman right down to Sue’s colored wig that was also initially sported by Julia Roberts.
Like Vivian, Julia Roberts’ character in that film, Sue’s Adela also believes that a fairy tale ending awaits her—all she needs is to legally change her name and she can start fresh with a brand new identity. Although the Filipino-American Star Magic talent is more known for her wholesome, girl next door type of image, being cast against type allowed Sue to further expand her range and deliver a compelling performance that should make her a strong contender for the one of the festival’s top acting plums.
Sue’s expressive, anime eyes and strawberry lips further punctuate her performance. Her effortless delivery of lines that involve R-rated terms like “pokpok,” “libog,” “bugaw” and “tigasan” also makes her a lot more convincing as the character she’s playing.
But it is Sue’s charming chemistry with RK as Ram that provides a lot of the film’s kilig moments especially during the cuddle scenes when they’re still trying to get to know more about each other.
As Ram, RK is also worthy of consideration for acting honors as he embodies the typical probinsyano who, because of initial setbacks, had to resort to drastic measures to keep his own dreams alive. It was Ram who believes that he and Adela have a legitimate shot at a happy-ever-after together, despite their less than ideal circumstances.
Also a standout in the film is former sexy star Aleck Bovick playing Adela’s estranged but loving mother who yearns for the time her daughter will come home and live with her new family.
Solid support is also provided by Niño Muhlach as the barangay chairman who also happens to be one of Adela’s regular clients and Mark Anthony Fernandez as the married doctor she fell in love with but ends up breaking her heart.
And like many of the films helmed by Jadaone and Villegas, there is a popular theme song (in this case, it’s Moonstar 88’s monster hit ballad, “Migraine”) that ups the kilig factor.
While the soapy flow of the story is pretty much by the numbers, it’s hard to find fault in a film as well-executed as Cuddle Weather.
But if we were to nitpick, Ram could have used a little more backstory. Unlike Adela who got burned by a client turned lover and whose family background was depicted in detail, the only things we know about Ram is what he reveals to his roommate.
It would have been more intriguing if Ram has a former girlfriend or if he has a family member in dire circumstances that could’ve further complicate his situation with Adela from his end.
Love can thrive in any environment and Cuddle Weather shows that it’s possible even among, uh, colleagues who have sex with other people for a living.
While Rod Marmol’s film does not break new ground, the film is well-crafted with starmaking performances by the two leads that lift it above your average rom-com.
Production design is impressive and highlights the night and dimly-lit scenes with a certain brightness that suggests hope for the rather dark world inhabited by sex workers like Adela and Ram.
Adela’s condominium reveal that while she’s making enough to live a comfortable life, it still feels like an empty nest she desperately needs to get out of.
While there are sex scenes between Adela and Ram and also with their clients, they are tastefully, sometimes even hilariously staged and are not revealing enough to merit a rating higher than the R-13 given by by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).
Cuddle Weather is one of the entries of the 2019 Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino which runs from September 13 to 19.
Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial team.