In these last days of summer, director Olivia Lamasan’s In The Name of Love for the 18th anniversary of Star Cinema explores love in all its glory and darkness.
Set in the heyday of the so-called Japayuki, it tells the story of lovers Cedes (Angel Locsin) and Emman (Aga Muhlach), both entertainers in Japan whose lives are turned upside down by a mistake that changes them forever.
The two meet again many years later to rekindle their romance. However, they are faced with the impossibility of their situation and their lingering feelings of hate and self-pity. Will they get their shot at happiness this time or are they indeed star-crossed?
The film’s strength lies, first, in the casting. It’s impossible to imagine any another actors in the roles of Cedes and Emman. Both characters require the dramatic prowess of no less than Aga Muhlach and Angel Locsin.
Aga as the ageing entertainer Emman impressses us purely with his acting abilities this time. His once taut body is deliberately potbellied for the film; his once angular boyish face is now a mass of fine lines and double chin.
But it all comes together when, in a confrontation scene with Cedes, Emman comes face to face with his misery and acknowledges his deficiencies: "Ayoko na. Matanda na ako, wala nang pupuntahan ito."
The role of Cedes is perhaps the most daring role Angel has ever played; never has she looked more voluptuous, more sensual. Her pole dancing in the movie is not that impressive, but who cares? Wait till you get to the bathtub scene and her swimming pool scene.
Through the use of meaningful glances and subtle body movements, Angel proves that she can deliver a beautifully nuanced performance.
Supporting actor Jake Cuenca, as Cedes’s present flame Dylan, is in his element. His insane good looks, in turn, are set aside to give way to a privileged but highly insecure heir to a local political dynasty founded on violence and deceit. Dylan is, at the same time, a good person at heart and a passionate lover.
But lest I get lost in the appreciation of the acting of the cast, the film, in an effort to bring something new to the audience, suffers from a convolution of events that made it difficult to get out of.
The events that led to Emman and Cedes’ reunion are made outlandish for dramatic effect, resulting in a Gordian knot. In an attempt to unravel the knot, characters start behaving out of character.
For instance, will a local political kingpin (played by Leo Rialp)—with a criminal mind to boot—do something so reckless because of a rush of emotion, bringing down his political investments in the process? Just a thought. To illustrate would be to spoil the ending.
The movie is touted as a romantic drama but it is more than that. There is danger, there is suspense and there’s action. Of course, viewers can also look forward to the passionate dance sequences that seem to embody the saying "dance is the vertical expression of a horizontal desire."
Ultimately, In the Name of Love is a trip to the dark side of love. It reminds us that love is raw, shameless, and yes, delicate and forgiving. It does defy all.
In the Name of Love is currently being screened in cinemas nationwide. It is graded B by the Cinema Evaluation Board.