The 2018 Metro Manila Film Festival entry One Great Love brings GMA-7 actor Dennis Trillo and ABS-CBN actress Kim Chiu together for the first time.
It is the story of a woman named Zyra (Kim Chiu) and the two men in her life: Carl (JC de Vera), a commercial pilot who flies in and out of Zyra’s life at his convenience; and Ian (Dennis Trillo), a heart surgeon and cardiologist who’s also Zyra’s best friend.
This piece of information prompts us to ask: “Who is Zyra’s one great love?”
Warning: Spoilers were used to illustrate certain points of this review.
This MMFF 2018 entry is a crowd-drawer, for sure, what with Kim’s legion of fans all willing to flock to the cinemas to see her latest movie.
Add Dennis Trillo, a well-respected dramatic actor, and JC de Vera, who in recent years has been beefing up his credentials in various film and TV projects, and what you have is a promising cast that you imagine might deliver memorable performances in a good film.
It starts off with a scene that shows Kim’s character packing her suitcases and preparing to leave the house. Dennis Trillo’s character attempts to call her mobile, but it’s a phone call between Kim and JC that gets through. Take note that at this point, we are unaware of how these three characters are related, and we start begging for answers.
We get our answers soon enough, at least with regard to Kim and JC’s characters.
The first half of the movie leads us into believing that Carl is Zyra’s one great love. They meet via the most convenient cliché of all: some random guy runs past Zyra in the hallway and sends her books and school supplies flying, and Carl is the knight in shining armor who helps her pick up her belongings and later sweeps her off her feet.
For about an hour, flashbacks take us through the course of Carl and Zyra’s love story—from the time they meet while still in college to that age when they engage in consensual sex as adults.
Zyra gives Carl her "everything," and she would point this out later in the film. Zyra’s outfits evolve from graphic tees and denim skirts to sexy sundresses and chiffon blouses. Her hairstyles change as she supposedly ages, but she does not mature as a person.
Zyra, the college student who falls in love with pilot-in-training Carl, walks and talks in the same manner as career woman Zyra, who manages her own organic food business. Her demeanor is the same all throughout.
When Carl breaks her heart for the nth time and she drinks herself silly at a bar as a form of retaliation, she cries and complains like a hapless teenager, in the way you would imagine a broken-hearted Kim Chiu would.
So, after an hour of sitting through episodes of Zyra falling for Carl and Carl repeatedly leaving her for some unknown reason, we finally learn what the significance of Dennis Trillo’s character is. Finally, after a goddamn hour.
As Zyra’s best friend, Ian, he automatically assumes responsibility as Zyra’s shoulder to cry on as she tries to recover from heartbreak.
A few conversations between the two imply that Ian himself has gone through heartbreak too; he and Zyra chant “Move on, tanga!” sometimes in unison, in various scenes, as if doing so would make them transform into superheroes in costume, in Darna fashion.
They also have a term of endearment—“Bes”—and you wonder if there are heart surgeons and cardiologists in real life, like Ian, who call their best friends “Bes” all the time.
A collective sigh of relief is in order when we see Zyra’s character finally evolving. After an hour or so of obsessing over Carl, she falls into the safe, caring, arms of Ian who has been falling in love with her all along.
Everything seems fine and dandy, with Ian doing everything in his power to make his wife happy, even as he continues to address her as “Bes” to the point that it becomes irritating.
It’s hard to unlearn certain things, and perhaps calling someone “Bes” is one of them.
Ian and Zyra marry, shack up, get pregnant, have a child, and suffer through the death of their only daughter—all under 30 minutes of screen time. That was fast, much faster than the hour we spent on Zyra and Carl.
And just when Zyra finds herself grieving over her daughter’s death, Carl shuttles back into her life, tries to win her back, and actually succeeds. They engage in an adulterous affair, which punches holes into Ian and Zyra’s marriage.
Although his character is a bit flat and it seems that his biggest contribution to the film is being official eye candy, JC de Vera as Carl is the warning sign every man and woman needs, because he epitomizes the lover we must all avoid. There’s a lesson there: “Move on, tanga!”
Zyra, if not for the faulty decisions she made concerning her love life and the fact that her behavior does not attempt to veer away from the personality of the actress portraying her, fits the profile of someone many women want to be: someone who successfully runs her own business and has a healthy relationship with friends and family.
In a way, Zyra’s status in life gives women in the audience something to aspire for.
The loving relationship between her father, played by Eric Quizon (who is also the film’s director) and her stepmom, played by Nina Dolino, helps us understand the workings of a second marriage. Seeing the stability of their May-December affair encourages us to be more open to relationships between partners with a wide age difference. It can work and in many cases, age is truly just a number. They may have appeared in just a few scenes throughout the film, but their limited interactions with the other characters were nothing short of refreshing.
Miles Ocampo, who portrays Zyra’s sister, copies the personality traits of her supposed father in the film. She is outspoken, funny, and endearing.
As the selfless and loving husband, Dennis Trillo delivers a convincing performance. It’s not hard to believe that he’s a doctor and he might have been the only saving grace of this film, had he not addressed his wife the way a gay best friend would all throughout.
But there is truth in the pained expression on his face, genuine suffering in his tears, and intensity in his emotions when he finds out about his wife’s affair with another man.
You pity him and you want to reach out, and then you want to throw him against a wall when he attempts to make the greatest sacrifice of all, which in turn, makes him look like a pitiful, spineless loser.
Yet, you appreciate him all the same, and wonder if his wife would actually take his offer to run away with a man from her past than stay in a secure marriage with such a noble, selfless, and caring man.
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.