PEP REVIEW: "You changed my life" exceeds expectations


Love knows no hurdles. In this scene, Laida Magtalas (Sarah Geronimo) travels from Manila to Laguna to surprise her boyfriend Migs Montenegro (John Lloyd Cruz) and celebrates Valentine's Day with him. You Changed My Life received grade "A" from the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB).


Everyone's biggest question on the night of You Changed My Life premiere: Will the sequel match, if not surpass, thefeat of the first John LloydCruz-Sarah Geronimo starrer?

Fans were filled with anticipation. Critics were wieldingpressure.

But I entered the cinema without any expectation.

I justwant to watch and possibly enjoy the film. Period. I do not want to spare even a few minutescomparing You Changed My Life with A Very Special Love. For me, a film sequel has usually been a class on its own—either it's good or not so good, notnecessarily better or worse than the first.

The fans of the Pop Princess clapped their hands when thefilm began rolling. About four or five voices screamed, "We love you, Sarah!!!"

And my thought balloon: "Naku, tila magiging Araneta angsinehan."

But 20 minutes later, I found myself chuckling and laughing withthe crowd. After an hour, I noticed that almost everyone in the moviehouseseemed motionless, their eyes glued to the screen. And afterthe final scene came a round of applause.

I have two words for the movie: Entertaining and engaging!

And several reasons why it's a movie to beat:

(1) The story-tellingis flawless. Not a single scene out of place from start to finish.

It begins with the brisk narration of Laida Magtalas(Sarah) about the milestones in her relationship with Migs Montenegro (JohnLloyd).

She is an editorial assistant turned accountexecutive of Bachelor magazine, whereshe met Migs, and she comes from a simple family. He belongs to a rich clan, buthe has yet to prove his worth to his half-siblings.

They make a nakakakiligpair. They come to work together. They call each other several times aday, even if one of them is in the middle of a pitch or a meeting. They go hometogether.

At first, it's sweet and cute, but the "clingy" approach takesits toll on their relationship when Migs is assigned to head the operations oftheir laundry-cleaning factory in Laguna.

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Suddenly their time together becomes so scarce that even sendinga text message or picking up a call seem impossible tasks for Migs. They tryto adjust to the new set-up—to the point of waking up early or sleepinginside the car. Eventually, the lack of time and their immaturity lead to theirsplit.

Macoy (Rayver Cruz) is an interesting diversion in the story.He is Laida's kababata, who serves asher tagahintay, tagasundo, tagahatid. He is not a contravida here, but moreof a catalyst—he makes Migs jealous, and towards the end, makes Laida realizeone important thing about love.

The film shows everything about relationships—fromthe sun-shiny days to the turbulent stage to the storm's aftermath.

The story is more mature, but not too serious; romantic butnot sappy; predictable yet realistic; and pretty comprehensive yet snappy.

(2) DirekCathy Garcia-Molina is just full of surprises and avant-garde tactics.

In A Very Special Love,there was the sun dance. This time, she introduces the power hug.

A dance showdown between Migs and Macoy takes the place of thevideoke scene in the last movie.

A helicopter ride, fireworks display, heart-shaped balloons,strawberry-filled cakes, Behbeh ring tones are some of the few nakakakilig visual and audio treats ofthe movie.

The Star Cinema director knows exactly when to infuse wit orhilarity or magic into a scene. She turns something ridiculous into ridiculouslyfunny. She explores situations and goes beyond borders.

Her treatment is effective in conveying the mood and messageof each scene; there's proper build-up every time the tone changes; transition is smooth and well-paced.

(3) SarahGeronimo proves she has that leading-lady charm.

First, her team-up with John Lloyd was tested and, obviously,it worked. In You Changed My Life,she was given a few scenes with Rayver, and sparks really flew.

Sarah's spontaneity and artlessness have that effect ofletting another person's guard down. Take her tandem with Rayver as anexample—in his previous movies, I sensed a tiny bit of reticence. But withSarah, it seemed like he dropped his inhibitions.

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As an actress, she's fairly good, considering that it's onlyher fourth movie. She showed minimal tendency to overdo her delivery or facialexpressions, but that's only in about two or three scenes, so I doubt if theviewers even noticed it.

(4) JohnLloyd Cruz's portrayal, as expected, is stupendous.

He can be charming, serious, funny, intense—he's good at evoking an emotional response from the moviegoers. Maaawa ka. Matatawa ka. Maiinis ka. Ma-i-in love ka.

One trivial detail I noted though at the onset of thefilm: He looked a bit haggard. But I dropped that as a minor concern the minutehis dad (Dante Rivero) asked him to handle their family business in Laguna. Thejob was truly taxing!

(5) The John Lloyd-Sarah tandem once again raises the kilig bars in cinemas, and does iteffortlessly.

Some of their lines are so "scripted" that in real lifeyou'd take them as pambobola,or even corny. But there's something so romantically cute about the way theydid the exchanges.

A talent manager comments: "Parang tambalan nina Nestor deVilla at Nida Blanca noon. Kumportable sila sa isa't-isa, enjoy nila ang mgaeksena..."

(6) I like how the other cast members liven up mostsituations.

Matet de Leon is her usual prangkacharacter. Joross Gamboa and Gio Alvarez, who usually make a bet on how farLaida's relationship with Migs would go, are the alaskadors in the movie.

Rowell Santiago (Migs's brother) is still a formidable forcein Migs's life, but he mellows in the latter part of the movie. The cool twist to hisstory is the entry of Mikee Cojuangco (ex-girlfriend of Rowell's character).

Most of all, I'm happy with the ending. Hindi bitin. Hindi pilit. Hindi alanganin.

Don't expect the movie to have any long-term impact in yourlife. Its goal is simple: pakiliginat aliwin ang manonood, and it is successful in doing exactly that.

I entered the cinema without any question in mind but I leftwith, "May part three kaya?"


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Trailer courtesy of Star Cinema


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