Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Valentine Girls (2011, Chris Martinez, Dominic Zapata, Andoy Ranay)

The Valentine offering starts with a loveless bespectacled author (Richard Gutierrez) pondering over possible themes for his trilogy of love stories. He gets a ribbing from his precocious little sister for wasting too much time writing on the computer.

Let us take a look at the stories if they are indeed time-wasters (and money-wasters, too).

Soulmates (by Dominic Zapata)

The first episode tells the story of Aia (Rhian Ramos), a pretty girl recovering from a car crash. She is regularly visited by a ghost named Oslec, who she learns was the guy who she bumped and killed during the crash. He came back to asked a favor from guilt-ridden Aia. He wants to go home. The story unravels as Aia helps Oslec journey back to his true home.

The plot twists can be seen far ahead. How is it that Aia was able to buy tickets for their ferris wheel ride? If she wasn't able to purchase tickets, then how come she didn't question her invisibility from living persons? As the questions pile up, your initial hunch that the pair is still alive and recovering from their injuries ultimately becomes stronger.

Putting out the episode title at the start of the feature is a poor decision. It defeats all efforts to camouflage the fact that both are still alive. The audience naturally expects the couple to be together at the end. The concept of the pair meeting and having a romantic affair in the dream world is a good one, though.

I loved the scenes showing Ramos screaming her lungs out during those supernatural encounters with Oslec. Ramos is perfect for those horror/slasher films. She also has a radiant screen presence and looks a lot like a well-known celebrity. Taylor Swift? Far from it. She reminds me more of the fashionable charmer Anne Curtis.

BBFF (by Andoy Ranay)

The second segment is the weakest of the three tales. The story has sexy Andie (Solenn Heussaff) ruing her decision to set up a blind date for her boy best friend (BBF). When the girl and BBF becomes a couple, she struggles to cope with being alone.

The I'm-afraid-to-lose-my-best-friend story has been done better in films such as Close to You. BBFF suffers from having a shorter running time. The characterizations are superficially fleshed out and the pacing seems rushed. I didn't like the amateurish direction by first timer Andoy Ranay. There are several scenes that are un-cinematic and out-of-focus. The poor blocking of characters makes my eyes wander to different parts of the screen. This scanning of a shot can be a good thing if what you see is beautifully framed, but as it is, BBFF's images are lackluster and bland.

Heussaff's strong personality seems fit for an Angelina Jolie-type of action film or superhero movie. Her whistle-bait figure was highlighted in several bikini shots. Having done well in the Survivor show, she also seems destined to do a survivor/adventure film.

Gunaw (by Chris Martinez)

The last tale is a hilarious post-apocalyptic love story. A Pinoy male named Aidan is a survivor of the Valentine nuclear holocaust in 2012. In his search for other survivors, he encounters and kills zombies with ease. Three years passed before Aidan meets Ivy, possibly the last woman on earth. Will sparks fly between the two?

Director Chris Martinez is on a roll. He was responsible for one of 2010’s top comedies, Here Comes the Bride. That film gave us the fantastic performance of Angelica Panganiban as a lustful gay. This time, Martinez once more cast another actress in an offbeat role. Who would have thought of pairing the dashing Richard Gutierrez with the irrepressible Eugene Domingo, and make it work?

Seeing Domingo as Ivy is a blast. Her first appearance sets off in motion a series of laugh-out-loud scenes. With serious music playing in the background, Aidan eyes a figure praying at the altar of a church he sought refuge at. The audience starts laughing when they realize that the figure is Domingo.

The funniest scene is a dig on the requisite kilig moment in mainstream romance films. Aidan is teaching Ivy the basics of tennis. When he comes from behind to guide Ivy’s hand, the theater erupts in a mixture of laughter and swoons. I think I may never associate a tennis-based kilig moment with romance again. I just had to recall Ivy’s beaming face and I burst automatically into a grin.

Richard Somes and a fellow production designer did wonders on a post-apocalyptic setting. From the North Korean nuclear room to the bombed-out building shelter to the zombie-infested swimming pool, the production design is truly outstanding.

The inclusion of Team Pilipinas zombies is a stroke of genius by the filmmakers. Aidan had a hard time getting rid of these agile and athletic zombies. It took Aidan’s cunning before he was able to get away from them.

Gunaw is the saving grace of the150-minute film My Valentine Girls. The two earlier segments are indeed time-wasters. The newbie directors, Zapata and Ranay, had to rely on showing more skin to make their segments more interesting. Martinez had the last say on this tendency to feature eye-candy by having Domingo don a swimsuit with a deep, deep, deep cleavage.

If you have some money to spend for a pair of movie tickets but don’t have lots of time, then you may skip the first two segments and just watch the rip-roaring third segment. Your partner may thank you later for taking him/her out to a wonderful movie. What to do with the time saved is up to both of you.


  1. It's Eugene DOMINGO. Not Dominguez. If you don't mind, please have it corrected. Thank you.

  2. hi...this is eugene's talent rep. we appreciate your wonderful review on gunaw BUT we would appreciate it even more if you correct the name of eugene. it's EUGENE DOMINGO and NOT DOMINGUEZ. we take reviews very seriously so we would like this corrected at the soonest possible time. once corrected, please re-post. thank you once again and i am glad you enjoyed gunaw.

  3. Oops... Yep, it's right there on the poster...

    Thanks to post-it-boy and Madonna for pointing out the error.

    Lesson learned: Don't write a review when Valentine's Day is near. You get lots of things competing for your attention. Now, who the hell is Dominguez? A name for the Gutierrez/Domingo love team? Who cares?

    Just watch Gunaw.

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