by Fidel Antonio Medel
Director Jose Javier Reyes reigned supreme for the past two consecutive years of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) with the Juday-Ryan starrer “Kasal Kasali Kasalo” in 2006 and its sequel “Sakal Sakali Saklolo” in 2007 – both in box office tallies and critics’ acclaim. Can he repeat history with his sexy-comedy entry “One Night Only”?
In a nutshell, “One Night Only” is an ensemble film in the likes of Gilbert Perez’s “Jologs”. Basically, the premise revolves around an entire cast, instead of just one or two main characters. Even though every single cast member has his own separate story, their collective storylines make up an encompassing umbrella plot where all of these characters play a vital part to push the narrative forward. It takes a great deal of character development and plain ingenuity to pull this off. But with thorough treatment from a skilled filmmaker, he could easily produce a runaway charmer. Otherwise, the result could easily be mistaken as a mess.
This ensemble film is topbilled by Katrina Halili, the gold-digging mistress of a congressman played by Ricky Davao; Alessandra De Rossi, the demure movie extra who falls prey to a sex maniac actor played by Paolo Contis; Jennylyn Mercado, the girlfriend of a tomboy played by Manilyn Reynes; and Valerie Concepcion and Diana Zubiri, the ladies who set a rendezvous with the same guy played by Jon Avila. Rounding up the cast are Jason Gainza, Valerie’s boyfriend and Ricky’s deputy officer in the film; Ogie Diaz, the controversy-hungry showbiz reporter who was beaten up by Paolo’s character; Chokoleit, Ogie’s friend in the film; and Joross Gamboa, the only man who could satiate Chokoleit’s sexual desire in the film. These 13 characters, divided by six degrees of separation, end up in the same seedy motel at the film’s finale. What events lead to that incident comprises the entire running time of the movie.
This MMFF entry is meant to confuse viewers especially during its first half. The relationships that connect the 13 characters are marred by unclear, almost unidentifiable ties. The film never fails to keep us guessing. However, it doesn’t give us enough reasons to stay interested in these characters’ multiple pursuits. Following their interspersed stories feel more like a chore, rather than an entertaining viewing experience. Moreover, there are way too many characters in this little movie. Three or more characters could have been axed to give ample time in exploring the depth of the other more important characters who play pivotal roles to the grand finale the film is aiming to achieve.
In terms of acting, the film belongs to Alessandra. Her comic rendition of a conservative, seemingly virginal character is effortlessly funny and equally convincing. When she turned herself into a sex-starved temptress, that’s when all the hilarity ensues. Her tandem with Paolo serves a platter of effective goofs and gags. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast delivers performances verging on subpar acting and overacting.
“One Night Only” is a lame attempt to emulate ensemble films of Robert Altman (“My Prairie Home Companion”, “Gosford Park”) and Paul Thomas Anderson (“Magnolia”). It falls short on the basic ingredients that made the aforementioned films engrossing and sensible. “One Night Only” is dubbed as MMFF’s sleeper hit and dark horse in the awards race, I think showbiz writers need to check what those phrases really meant, because from the way it looks, this film is miles away from being branded as such.
So can Director Jose Javier Reyes repeat history with “One Night Only”? Sorry Direk Joey, but that would be a NO.
* published in Philippine Entertainment Portal