Pain, be it physical or emotional, is a universal feeling.
As universal feelings go, they make good topics of any kind of work — TV shows (hence those tearful teleseryes), shows, and movies.
Ex With Benefits singles out this universal feeling from an array of other emotions as if it were a plant uprooted from a garden, and puts it out there as the centerpiece of the film.
Pain is the reason why medical students Adam Castrences (played by Derek Ramsay) and Arkisha Aragon (Coleen Garcia) met one fine day at the track and field, where the former fell and injured her leg.
Pain is the reason why Adam, to his parents’ chagrin, has remained single, 10 years after he and Arkisha broke up for a reason that the bachelor has not figured out, even after a decade.
Adam, now a highly-respected doctor, can’t heal the broken heart he’s been nursing for so long.
And nothing, not even pretty, intelligent and wealthy Scarlet (Meg Imperial) can make him wriggle away from pain’s tight embrace.
It is also pain that jumpstarted medicine’s search for all sorts of healing medications. Placebos, painkillers of all shapes, sizes and brands cropped up, and spawned an entire industry and a whole new world for pharmaceuticals.
MED REPS’ WORLD. It gave medical representatives (med reps) reason to knock on physicians’ doors, and lay all sorts of gifts —even themselves — on doctors’ feet.
It is the world Arkisha— proclaimed Med Rep of the Year – lives and breathes. It’s a world she shares with Adam, whose endorsement is a magic door that leads to skyrocketing sales, and all things bright and beautiful.
Figures why Arkisha’s boss (played by Carmi Martin) ordered her top med rep to get Dr. Castrences’ good-as-gold nod for their new painkiller.
Her boss’ orders give Arkisha a panic attack.
How do you face your ex, and ask him a favor that means the world to you, 10 years after you disappeared under mysterious circumstances?
“Duty” is a word everyone— especially a breadwinner like Arkisha— takes seriously. So she takes a deep breath and goes for it.
The action— many in bed — starts.
A photo posted by Coleen Garcia ðŸ’‹ (@coleengarcia) onJul 22, 2015 at 5:00am PDT
SEXY SCENES. Those who market Ex With Benefits for its sexy scenes are doing the film a disservice because people get the impression that it’s all about bed scenes, and nothing but.
Yes, Coleen Garcia's character hops into bed as easily as she changes clothes in search for that all-important doctors’ endorsements.
Billy Crawford’s girlfriend pushes the envelope with those steamy scenes with Derek.
But she bares only her flawless back and wears sexy dresses. Hers and Derek’s ecstatic expressions summon all kinds of erotic thoughts. But not a single private part of the body is there for male moviegoers to ogle at.
Billy has no reason to storm out of the movie house and hurl invectives at the filmmakers for the way they handled his girlfriend’s sexy scenes.
Besides, Coleen acquitted herself quite well as the ambitious med rep who wanted the best for her family, and the girl who gave her all so her boyfriend would succeed.
Yes, she exudes sexiness but she also displays maturity when it comes to her dramatic scenes, especially when she confronts Adam.
Derek is convincing and ultra-desirable as a guy pining over a lost love.
LIGHT SCENES. Ex With Benefits is a romance drama. But it didn’t hurt that a few light scenes eased the tension in highly-charged situations.
The gay waiter who almost made the drinking glass overflow with water at the sight of the debonair doctor is a scene-stealer.
Adam and Arkisha could have used common terms of endearment – like “Hon” or “Sweetheart.” However, they decided on "alipunga/fungi”—after pesky organisms that grow on skin and resurface no matter how hard you try to kill them.
This way, they thankfully junked the kind of mush you see in so many romantic movies, while exuding that love-you-to-bits feeling only effective onscreen lovers can show.
Director Gino Santos can be commended for the youthful vibe that can be felt throughout the movie. He makes use of unusual camera angles that provide a fresh perspective.
QUESTIONS ABOUT MED REPS. Coleen’s desperate way of racking up sales for the products she pushes, is not flattering for med reps, though. It makes one think if the profession bears watching for signs of indecency.
Do med reps really have to throw caution to the wind to make it to the top?
Not all do, for sure. But Coleen’s character makes you wonder.
No wonder med reps have cried foul over the way the way the movie portrayed their character.
It’s also strange why Scarlet, a med rep herself, had to research about Arkisha’s reputation in the working community, when they belong to the same profession.
Is Scarlet too estranged from her colleagues, the name and reputation of Arkisha— a top med rep— escaped her the first time Adam’s wannabe girlfriend heard of her?
Still, Ex With Benefits entertains and engages.
Today’s women can relate to Coleen’s vulnerable yet empowered character (but not the sex object image, of course).
Romantic scenes are not syrupy; dialogues about love – involving such surprising things like placebos even— are different.
You won’t mind seeing your ex again after seeing this film, which is produced by Star Cinema and Viva Films.
What about being a med rep? Next question, please.
Ex With Benefits, graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board, is currently being screened in cinemas.
Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.