If love does conquer all, does a large age gap between you and your beloved pose a threat to your happiness?
You may want to put some thought into that as you enjoy the film adaptation of Vince de Jesus’s original musical play Changing Partners.
Directed by Dan Villegas, the movie version is now being screened as part of the 2017 Cinema One Originals Film Festival.
Changing Partners tells in four variations the story of a couple with a 15-year gap between them.
Alex, the older person in the relationship, is played by Agot Isidro and Jojit Lorenzo.
Meanwhile, the younger person, Cris, is played by Sandino Martin and Anna Luna.
In the four versions, Alex and Cris change from a regular heterosexual couple with ordinary man-woman issues to a gay couple with more complex issues.
The story opens with all the couples revelling in the beauty of their relationship.
Alex sings about how lucky he/she to have taken a spritely young lover while Cris bursts with the thrill of being pursued and won over by his/her provider and protector.
As the narrative progresses, the issues brought about their age gap are brought to the fore and moviegoers witness the gradual deterioration of their once harmonious union.
Changing Partners is hardly original in story and scope as time and again we’ve seen mismatched couples get together only for the romance to fizzle. What makes it different is the reimagining of the situation in various ways with the goal of showing that gender orientation is not an escape from the power struggle that occurs when one partner is perceived as being weaker than the other.
Despite the sensitive theme, it is beautifully told through intelligent discourse and a smattering of wit.
Jojit Lorenzo was particularly amazing as he transitions from a brutish, middle-aged man to a charismatic but insecure gay man.
A lot of care was also put on the technical aspect of the film. Changing Partners is a masterfully edited movie that depicts the pitfalls of May-December affairs.
The scenes were elegantly photographed but were mostly of interiors, creating a feeling of pleasant dread, of the sense that Cris, while beautifully sheltered, is virtually a caged bird.
An advantage of film adaptation over the original version is it is able to use close-up shots. In its absence in the theater, the audience only has the music to feel the gravity of emotions but here, it was used to create a sense of intimacy and to encourage introspection.
That the big-screen adaptation remains a musical may be thrill for those who have seen the play due largely to the curiosity over the new treatment. For those who have not seen the play, however, it may take some precious minutes before they are won over by the lyrics and the delivery.
But Changing Partners will not be what it is if it were not a musical for it is through song that the characters are truly able to unleash their true thoughts and feelings, the dialogue only serves to move the plot forward and to transition to major developments.
If it were not for the song and the poetry, we cannot fully grasp the fears and insecurities of the older person committing himself/herself to a slightly irresponsible and fragile person; or the struggles of the younger one in the relationship to be his/her own person and see the world without losing their safety net.
In whatever incarnation, Changing Partners is a cautionary tale on how age difference, if handled poorly, can dissolve love in a relationship.
Whatever romantic relationship we are in, there will always be a little bit of Alex and Cris in all of us.
Changing Partners is one of the entries in the 2017 Cinema One Originals film festival that is ongoing until November 21 at Trinoma, Glorietta, Gateway, U.P. Cine Adarna, Cinema 76, and Cinematheque Kalaw. There is an extended run from November 22 to 28 at the Rockwell Power Plant Mall and Black Maria Theater in Mandaluyong.
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.