Erotic comedy The Significant Other starts off crazy enough to warrant attention. Very early on you can brace yourself for a ton of drama and bitch slapping in the next hour or so.
Nicole (Erich Gonzales) is an innocent young woman competing in barrio-level beauty pageants. One day, she is spotted by a talent scout who offers her a modelling contract in Manila. Nicole is thrilled as this means she will getting closer to attaining her dream of being a top model like her idol Maxene (Lovi Poe).
One hindrance to her dream is a large café au lait birthmark on her neck. To remedy the situation, she was taken to cosmetic surgeon Edward (Tom Rodriguez) who immediately fancies her and initiates an affair.
With this minor annoyance out of the way, Nicole was promptly signed into a modelling agency that—surprise!—is the same one as Maxene’s. The two women quickly became friends as they were thrown into the same projects together but when Maxene’s connection to Edward was revealed, all hell breaks loose.
Everything about The Significant Other oozes with drama, camp, and kitsch that you can either embrace it wholeheartedly or reject it altogether.
The very "tita"-fied atmosphere makes it attractive to a certain population of moviegoers but will most likely be less of a hit with the younger set who have more or less developed different expectations from Philippine erotica and who tend to patronize films that veer away from formulas.
If you’re the kind, however, who enjoys bodice ripper romances and afternoon soaps with outlandish twists, this film fits the bill.
Also, if you were enamored with the movie version of Bituing Walang Ningning, chances are, you will enjoy this because this is pretty much the sexy and daring version of it.
As everyone knows how infidelity movies fold and unfold anyway, you’re most likely considering to see the movie because of the hot action between the lead stars.
Tom was at his hot douchebag best as the philandering doctor with the body to boot and is matched in intensity by Lovi.
Erich showed her bold and fearless side when she engaged in torrid kissing while straddling Tom inside his car. She was a vision of ecstasy as Tom kissed her neck and made his way down her bosom.
Most of the love scenes suggest intensity but were muted enough to be accessible to a younger audience.
To say that The Significant Other is highly formulaic would be an understatement. For starters, the storyline is so predictable you will know the exact moment somebody will slap somebody and when Bitch A will have that steamy confrontation with Bitch B.
There is also the oft-occurring objectification and sexualization of certain professions like lawyers and doctors to justify the grand lifestyles and the larger-than-life drama in the lives of characters.
But there is comfort in the familiar as they say and sometimes it’s not the destination that matters but the trip itself.
Another way of looking at it would be that the film has no other higher cinematic aspirations other than to entertain and so must be seen that way.
And in that vein, you can bask in the unadulterated joy of the time-honored hot confrontation between the wife and the mistress, the dramatic albeit useless outfits modeled by Nicole and Maxine, the lush sentimental soundtrack in the love scenes, and the paperback romance dialogue.
Despite being promoted as an infidelity film pumped with sex and all that jazz, The Significant Other is really a story about female friendship.
We all know how in kabit movies, the wife triumphs in the end with her man on her side and the mistress repenting for her misdeed in some corner of the world far, far away from the legal wife. This attempts to move away from that by showing an alternative ending.
It also touches on real issues confronted by women today like how it’s often more difficult if the wife wants to pursue a career than if she chooses to stay at home to raise children and support her husband’s career.
And for those who are single, we are shown how they are prone to be collateral damage in power struggles between married couples when they are caught in the middle of it.
But perhaps more important, what it takes for a woman to prove his womanhood to a fellow woman.
Directed by Joel Lamangan, The Significant Other garnered an R-13 rating from the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB). It was produced by the film outfit Cineko and distributed by Star Cinema.
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.