Review: And I Love You So (2.5/5)

Star Cinema has produced the biggest romantic blockbusters of the late. Although there is no exact science in determining what makes moviegoers tick, the studio’s success is definitely not a product of plain luck or chance. They possess the formula that will make the audience swoon, laugh, and cry in a heartbeat. Because of this, we often get romantic films that follow the same template as their predecessors. In “And I Love You So”, director Laurenti Dyogi seemed to have made a checklist of the requirements of a romantic film fit to be a box-office darling. Big stars: check. Humor: check. Family drama: check. Cheesy lines: check, check, check!

The fairy tale marriage of Lara (Bea Alonzo) and Oliver (Derek Ramsay) is abruptly put to a halt when the latter died of aneurysm only five months after they rang the wedding bells. Aside from coping with the loss of her husband, the young widow also faces financial hurdles. She can’t pay for the lease of her pre-school, so she is forced to rent out her condo unit. That’s how she met Chris (Sam Milby), her tenant, who also ‘lost’ his better half.

Through chance encounters, the two eventually become close. Chris keeps on urging Lara to let loose, live her life, and step out of the shadows of her deceased husband. So he asks her to write all the activities she thinks she cannot do by herself. Her list includes watching a movie, dining in a resto, parking her Forrester, and going out of town. Chris accompanies her to be ‘alone’. Soon enough, the inevitable happens. The two find themselves slowly falling into the trappings of love. However, she feels guilty for being happy, thinking that it is wrong to replace Oliver in her life.

Sans the seemingly compulsory cheesy scenes, the script feels largely mature. It deals with issues that have more weight vis-à-vis the average teenage love affair. The characters are presented with difficult conflicts that reflect the harsh reality that not everything that makes us happy is worth keeping. Sometimes, we have to let go of the things we want and love even if it hurts us. In real life, we do not always get our happy endings.

But this isn’t real life. This is a Star Cinema movie, and feel-good endings seem to be one of the requirements in the filmmakers’ checklist. The film should have ended ten minutes before the credits rolled. However, hanging endings may not please the die-hard mainstream audience. Not that I’m against happy endings, but isn’t it better to let viewers decide for themselves what the outcome will be. In true Star Cinema fashion, the film ends with a bang – a grand gesture of self-humiliation to profess one’s true feelings of love. Romantic, maybe. Kinda stupid and unrealistic, yes.

Despite the filmmakers’ penchant for fairy tale endings, the film is still undeniably a genuine and mature love story. The formula has not worn off, but the affecting performances and strong script compensate for the flaws. Prepare to swoon, laugh, and cry at Direk Lauren’s baton.

* published in PEP


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