In recent years, romance has become the genre of choice for Filipino moviegoers. Not that love stories have never been popular or that the preference is necessarily a bad thing but the overload is apparently taking its toll on the quality of these films.
The good news or, okay, at least what serves as the saving grace of even the most poorly developed films is the inspired casting of charming and talented leads.
Such is the case in Regal Entertainment’s Valentine offering, Us Again. Here, Jane Oineza plays Marge, a medical technologist who is coming to terms with the fallout of her clandestine relationship with RK Bagatsing who portrays Mike.
Mike is the boyfriend of her Marge's roommate and fellow medical student Ann (played by newcomer Sarah Edwards).
Mike came into Marge’s life at the exact moment inside the church she was praying for someone to be in a relationship with. She would later discover that Mike and Ann are already a couple.
Ann, however, was hardly a hindrance to Mike and Marge’s attraction to each other. Given that neither of them is still living with their parents, it’s a bit odd that they’re not living together.
Ann, who would not let Mike meet her parents, was totally unsupportive of his passion for the arts and for someone who admits to be the “controlling” type, did not even do anything when she started to suspect that something may be going on between her man and her BFF.
Why, she even allowed him to take a shower at her place while Marge is sleeping due to a hangover from the previous night out at the bar.
It’s quite common for love triangles to feature couples who have nothing in common which serves to set up the more compatible third wheel to eventually take over. Naturally, Marge is fascinated by Mike’s artistic inclination. The things about Mike that Ann could not be bothered to care about excites her.
Which brings us back to lead actors RK and Jane. From Slumber Party to Apocalypse Child to most recently, Cuddle Weather, RK has delivered one memorable performance after another. In Us Again, he traverses the line between being charming to being overbearing. When not one but two tragic twists leading to the abrupt ending of Mike and Marge’s romance, RK’s nuanced performance at that point makes his character convincingly sympathetic.
As a member of that illustrious batch of Star Magic talents that also included Liza Soberano, Julia Barretto and Janella Salvador, Jane has pretty much lived up to her potential and in roles, big and small, has managed to stand out on big screen projects like Bloody Crayons, Finding You, and Ang Henerasyong Sumuko sa Love despite their shortcomings.
It’s not easy to like a character like Marge. She knows she and Mike are hurting somebody with their relationship but Jane’s depiction keeps her grounded. She has the film’s most memorable lines, too. Comparing their romance to fireworks at the start of the film, she quipped, “after the spectacle, it’s gone.” When Marge and Mike decided to take their attraction to the next level, she called it “one night, one huge mistake of a night. When he insisted that he’s happy with her, she replied, “being happy is not enough.” True, such lines border are rather cliched but as in most films like this, execution is everything.
While RK and Jane shine individually in Us Again, it is their simmering chemistry that ultimately saves the film and makes it worth seeing through the end. It’s too bad that Juvy Galamiton’s underdeveloped script failed to provide more heat and an imminent sense of danger to the protagonists as they weren’t that concerned about getting caught, at least not while they were spending time together.
Even though the film has more than its fair share of shortcomings in the story department, director Joy Aquino shows promise as a filmmaker. Known for her work as a cinematographer, it is to Aquino’s credit and the film’s actual director of photography, Ian Marasigan that Us Again has a glossy look and a colorful palette. With the right screenplay, Aquino may be able to deliver a film worthy of her eye for detail.
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.