May 03, 2008

When Love Begins: a comedy of clichés

SO I got suckered into watching When Love Begins by Ms. RP. I had just come from a high watching Iron Man so you can imagine the dread I must have felt. (Ok, the reason she wanted to watch it because our gang is going to Boracay next weekend and there were scenes in the movie that had the island as its setting. I wondered why my friends and I were not in the movie, not even as extras, after the many times we've been to Boracay. But there were a few sightings of Brian Gorrell, I thought, though not w/ DJ Montano hehe.)

First of all, Aga Muhlach has never been my favorite local actor. He talks with a lisp and has that trademark puppy dog eyes staring into nothingness. Second, except for veteran actors Ronaldo Valdez, Boots Anson Roa, and Christopher de Leon, I didn't know any of the other artistas in this film. (To their credit, Valdez and Anson Roa were the only ones who manage to pull off their roles credibly, as parents of Aga's character, inspite of the inspid dialogue handed to them. De Leon was, as usual, at his OA best. Ick.)

You can say I'm not much of a fan of local cinema. I've been disappointed many times over watching the films that all movie reviewers say are good (of course, most of them are actually paid hacks of the producers), but actually are not. The last time I really enjoyed local films was during the time of the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines (take a bow Imee Marcos) and you had masterpieces created by Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Peque Gallaga, Laurice Guillen, Mike de Leon, Marilou Diaz Abaya, etc. I was studying for my CommArts degree then and had to watch all these films. But I enjoyed them, despite the requirement. To this day, the films produced during the ECP heyday are considered classics, mahirap pantayan. All the ingredients of a good movie were there: original screenplays with intelligent dialogue, powerful and inspired acting and directing...all the films of these directors were just creative and well-thought out.

These days, everyone panders to commercialism. I cannot imagine how Joey Reyes, esteemed DLSU professor and respectable scriptwriter/director could write such lines in When Love Begins such as: "It's better if we don't have any expectations" (Anne Curtis' character Michelle referring to her budding relationship with Aga's character Ben); "If you take me for what I am, you must also take for what I'm not!" (award!); and have scenes were Aga's character observes Anne Curtis' character sleeping. Anova! Gasgas na yan! This film was peppered w/ so many clichés in dialogue and scenery, Ms. RP and I (along with other filmgoers beside us) could not help but burst out in laughter, every 15 minutes.

As is the case in many of commercial Pinoy films today, even the characterizations were off. How could Aga's character call himself a vegetarian when he's so fat?! (Yes folks, the rumors are untrue. Aga's body is far from buffed.) And as a supposedly experienced environmentalist, how could he not know that the father of Anne's character (played by de Leon) was behind the subdivision development that Aga's character was going to file a case against? I know a lot of vegetarians and they're not fat! I know environmentalists and they do their homework well before filing cases vs companies w/c violate environmental laws.

In the film, we learn at the end that Anson Roa's character dies of cancer. But for some strange reaason, there was no mention whatsoever of what happened to De Leon's character, father of Aga's love interest, after father and daughter went to the States!

Did I have high hopes that this movie was going to be a great movie, the best produced by Philippine cinema by far? Certainly not. So why am I ranting? Because it was a waste of time and money. Sure it gave us some comic relief because of the bad acting and stupid dialogue, but it really makes me feel sad how Philippine movies, once ranked the best in Asia, and a few times in the world, have degenerated to pathetic, unthinking, idiotic productions with no redeeming values whatsoever.

This is why I only watch Ruffa Mae Quinto or Ai-Ai delas Alas movies. At least you know what you're in for – a stupid comedy – so you still get your money's worth. When Love Begins was meant to be a drama. But we left the movie theater, laughing hysterically.


moon said...

maybe try Ploning instead? I noticed from clickthecity reviews and reviews that people were disappointed with WLB- even those who knew what they were watching the movie for. But came out from watching Ploning buoyed by what they saw. (I havent seen either, as Im residing elsewhere.)

Anonymous said...


Stella Arnaldo said...

jun ebias isdatchu?

Stella Arnaldo said...

Yup I intend to drag my friend Ms. RP to watch Ploning. Thanks.

moon said...

if you do get to watch ploning, i hope you blog about it too. i haven't read a really in depth review about it, most seem to be generalizations and sweeping statements. thanks

moon said...

hi again stella, salamat sa "magic of the internet", i came upon a bootlegged copy of this movie. yeah, it did suck big time. unlike you, though, i didn't laugh. i just got really bored with it kasi i could predict what would happen next even without having read any spoilers.

it was like a long drawn out episode of "maalaala mo kaya" or some similar weekly television drama. both aga and anne's characters were so inconsistent and "cardboard"-like. and the story: kung baga sa kanta, medyo monotonous: walang highs and lows, walang highlight...wala lang, boring.

mababaw lang naman ang gusto ko sa movie: sana lang matino ang story, di kelangan ng twist just make it interesting, well fleshed out characters. yun lang.

here's one film i recommend: "little children" (with kate winslet) medyo luma na 2006 pa but interesting siya. nudity scenes so don't bring kids with you.

VRG said...

Are u the Stella Arnaldo I went to school with in DLSU Commarts? Check out my blog:
-Chet Vergara

Stella Arnaldo said...

Yes Chet, 'tis I. Thanks for dropping by.