It's only sometimes that I watch local movies, but when I do, I try to find quality films. Most of it I couldn't see even if I wanted to. But sometimes, just sometimes, I manage to find such gems and it makes my soul cry to witness such beauty and yet it goes unnoticed by most of us. I have raved about Erik Matti's On the Job, but I'm here to talk about another film.
|Screenplay & Directed by: Jerrold Tarog|
"If Only" (with english sub)
Running Time: 100 mins
I'm so glad I have managed to see this and I wish that it gets a wider release. While watching, I wonder why we can't get such films of this quality a mainstream release. I wonder why people continue to ignore films which gives us stories that pluck at the innermost strings of our emotions, and yet feed such drivel that only have pseudo-witty one-liners and slapstick humor and shameless product placements. It's a pity.
What I like about this film is its simplicity. I'm not saying it lacks depth or sophistication because it also has that. Sana Dati is a quiet beauty. Everything is natural. The acting is heartfelt, the script is striking, the cinematography is beautiful, and the direction is simply masterful.
And I admit, I cried. I cried at the ending (the way that was handled deserves a standing ovation). The whole film prepares us for that. It invites us to sympathize with the characters and when the film finally concludes, it hits us so hard, despite its subtlety, that we actually feel the emotions the characters are probably feeling at that time. It couldn't be helped. Sana Dati makes you feel.
What I really like about this film is how Tarog created a story, not for the sake of making a formulaic movie, but for the sake of telling one. It's not a typical love story where there's an antagonist hindering two people in love. There are no hysterics, no antics, it's just a simple story showing us different facets of love. Lovi Poe (Andrea), Paulo Avelino (Dennis), Benjamin Alves (Andrew) all did great. Even the side characters added weight & appeal to the entire film. My favorite character though was TJ Trinidad's Robert.
SPOILERS: Trinidad did a superb job playing a character that initially seems unlikeable. A character that could be easily used as an antagonist - simply a device to add conflict to a movie. But no. Tarog refused to go down that way. The bigger part of the movie, we were shown Andrea's past, how she found real love, and how she lost it - naturally, we will be more sympathetic to Andrea's character. We are rooting for her to break away from a potential loveless marriage, to pursue something connected to her past love. And we easily cheer as Robert tries so hard, and fail, to find her runaway bride. Even when he manages to find her, some part of us still wishes the Andrea leaves him at the altar. Because she doesn't love him right? The final act made me see Robert's side and that's when I cried. Because we were blinded by a love story right? That we failed to see the selfishness of Andrea - she left everything to elope with Andrew. When tragedy happens, she comes back, asks Robert (fully knowing how he has some feelings for her) to convince her to marry him despite knowing within herself that she loves someone else. Simply put, she used Robert's love for her. That's selfish. Now we realize that how Robert acted before is justified. He knew. But he loves her. So he suffered in silence, only wishing that she makes the decision to choose him after all is said and done. So in the end - that ending - opened the gates to my dam of tears, because when Andrea FINALLY decides to let go, when she leaves the shoes behind symbolizing the final act of fully letting go of her past, she finally realizes that she CAN be capable of loving that person who stood by her despite of everything. That even if Robert wasn't her great love, still, he can be someone she COULD love. When she said I love you to him, it marks the start of a new beginning, a clean slate. No need for explanations or questions. Just acceptance.
A MOOT RATING: 5/5 - the film had a slow second act (just a very minor one) but it's all so worth it.
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