Thursday, September 17, 2009

In My Life (2009, Olivia Lamasan)

Vilma Santos chose this as her comeback film in lieu of Raya Martin's Independencia. The latter film is among the best films released so far this year, while In My Life will soon be forgotten after the media hype whimpers down.

The blurbs boldly scream... Passionate scene of John Lloyd Cruz and Luis Manzano! Acting showdown between Cruz and Vilma!! 16th Anniversary Presentation of Star Cinema!!!

The prolific production company should have selected a better story for the triumvirate of Vilma, Cruz, and Manzano. The movie starts with Noel Villanueva (John Lloyd Cruz) worrying about the impending visit of his lover's mother. Shirley Templo (Vilma Santos) is a cranky librarian and former physical education teacher, who belatedly visits her birth country, the United States of America. She hesitantly goes to New York City to stay with her son, Mark Salvacion (Luis Manzano). She learns soon enough that Mark is living in with Noel.

The film shows New York City as a place where everyone is free to choose his/her lover, regardless of looks, race, and sexual orientation. The non-Filipino actors were surprisingly good. They really seem to be residents. Heck, they probably are city residents. However, I'm bothered with the film's depiction of the city's dark side. It shows an African-American harassing Shirley.

Luis Manzano has a memorable scene with his mom, Vilma. The picnic scene shows Mark with Shirley. They have a one-on-one talk about how Shirley began to distance herself from Mark because of his sexuality. Manzano was so gay-ingly good in this scene. He did not portray Mark as the swishy type but is still convincing as a homosexual. Manzano will figure in another memorable and well-directed scene. Nope, it is not the passionate scene but the one involving him and his preoccupation with his cellphone.

The much-hyped passionate scene is a dud. If you blink, then you will probably miss it. The beautiful shot before the kissing scene is the one that should have been talked about. We see Noel hugging Mark while a tear drop rolls down his cheek. Now, that is a passionate person who is very much in love!

There are directing and script flaws that bother me. The travelogue scenes diminish the impact of the fish-out-of-the-water concept. The initial scenes give the impression that Shirley is very much adapted to the city. Also, Shirley is not a bumbling moron. She is an educated person and a librarian at that. The wacky scenes are completely out of line.

The film seems to be about how a mother comes to grips with her homophobia. Well, it turns out, that she is not only distant to her son but also to her two daughters. She is not homophobic. She is plainly a bad mother. How she ended up being a bad mother was not tackled at all. The film was so caught up with other topics such as marriage for convenience, and gay couples that it forgot the major topic.

Director Olivia Lamasan wasn't able to repeat her magic in Sana Maulit Muli. Her latest film is an acting showcase for Manzano and Cruz. Sadly, it is hampered by a cluttered story. There are better films released out there. Showing at indieSine is Jerrold Tarog's technically-competent Mangatyanan. And, there's the magnificent Independencia, which will have its last screening at the UP Cine Adarna on Saturday (September 19) at 1:00 pm. See the excellent movie that Vilma rejected as her comeback film.
Photo from Star Cinema


  1. Vilma Santos chose this as her comeback film in lieu of Raya Martin's Independencia. The latter film is among the best films released so far this year, while In My Life will soon be forgotten after the media hype whimpers down.

    - it hasn't even shown and you're already saying that independencia is the best film released this year and in my life will be forgotten. lets see. lets see if by the end of the year, you approach someone from the street if ate vi will be remembered for independencia over "in my life"

    How she ended up being a bad mother was not tackled at all.

    -then you're an idiot. how was it not tackled? weren't you listening when vilma was telling john lloyd that when he husband left her, she was in so much pain but couldnt show it to her children? dahil "walang time out ang pagiging ina?" and that because of that, she became hardened? i thought the movie already spelled it out for you.

    ang chaka ng website mo. i chanced upon this when you commented in anotehr blog. im sure to generate traffic to this feeling critique movie. what movie have you made?

  2. fyi napalabas na po ang independencia and i agree its one of the best film released so far this year; i hope this film will mark raya's separation to lav's aesthetic.

    In regard to in my life? i have'nt seen it but i'll bet you the film sucks.

  3. Hi girl, you’re right. Independencia has not been released … in the USA, that is. The Raya Martin film just concluded its limited release at UP Cine Adarna, Philippines. It is one of the best films so far this year. But, I have a hunch that the lesser movie, In My Life, will probably be the one snagging a Best Picture award or two next year. That’s a great thing if you believe in our awards-giving bodies.

    I’m still discerning the reason behind Shirley’s behavior as a parent. From the movie, certain clues can be gleaned. Benito left Shirley fifteen years ago. She stopped dancing with her then-teenaged son, Mark. And later in the film, we learned that she became distant to all her children.

    Did I miss out on Shirley’s confession? That is a key scene that can meld the disjointed clues. Did the confession occur during her first confrontation (silent Noel) or her second confrontation with Noel (wherein the latter fought back and slapped her)?

    I can easily go back to view the movie to see the alleged confession but the movie is clearly not worth a second look. Why? Aside from the reasons I’ve written in the main entry, I’m deeply disturbed with the casting of the girl who played Pamela.

  4. Excellent image because I think they have that excellent relationship thanks that they use cheap viagra, I think that's the best thing to get what we want.m10m