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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Aug 26, 2015

The Love Affair Review - Good Commercial Movie About Infidelity

LOCAL VIEWERS just adore films about infidelity, which by now should be a tired film genre but is not. In the 70s, the trio of Lolita Rodriguez, Eddie Rodriguez and Marlene Dauden reigned supreme in this kind of love triangle saga, starting with “Sapagkat Kami’y Tao Lamang” that spawned similar films like “Babae, Ikaw ang Dahilan”, “Lalake, Kasalanan Mo”, etc. The late Danny Zialcita was an expert in this type of films with his “Langis at Tubig”, “Ikaw at ang Gabi”, “Nagalit ang Buwan…”, etc. Maryo de los Reyes has his own share of good films about infidelity, like “My Other Woman”, “Sa Ngalan ng Pag-ibig”, “Pahiram ng Sandali” and his movie with Star Cinema, “A Love Story” where Maricel Soriano was the mistress and Angelica Panganiban was the wife of Aga Muhlach. Now, even on TV, viewers can’t get enough of soaps like “Dalawang Mrs. Real”, “Two Wives”, “Legal Wife”, etc.

Star Cinema has become the current expert in making this kind of movie and their latest offering is “The Love Affair”, directed by Nuel Naval whose previous films (also his debut flick) was “A Secret Affair”. Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta play the couple experiencing marital problems just because Goma saw Dawn holding hands with Tonton Gutierrez. Dawn says nothing really happened between them but Goma wants to end their relationship. He consults a lawyer, Bea Alonzo, who he earlier helped when she figured in a car accident after she found out that the guy she’s about to marry (Tom Rodriguez) has been unfaithful.
It’s easy to conclude that since both of them are nursing a broken heart, they’ll soon be having an affair. And that’s exactly what happens. But like all other movies about infidelity, you know it will always end with the marriage being saved and the husband returning to the wife. Otherwise, the guardians of our morality will be up in arms. We don’t remember any local film about a love triangle where it’s the “kabit” who triumphs, not even in the definitive film about mistresses, “Relasyon” by Ishmael Bernal.

“Love Affair” is a good commercial film. The production design and cinematography give it a sleek glossy look, but it doesn’t really offer anything new. There are the usual and obligatory confrontation scenes between husband and wife, wife and mistress (this is one of the best scenes in the movie when Dawn and Bea face each other), daughter and mistress (with Jane Oineza as the daughter who implores Bea to leave their dad.) Masa viewers will get disappointed if they don’t have their usual dose of such engineered scenes.

But unfortunately, the film doesn’t really go deep into the dynamics of having an affair. (If you want that, watch “The Affair”, an American TV series starring Dominic West, Ruth Wilson and Maura Tierney.) There’s an attempt to be serious with a scene showing Goma and Dawn seeking the help of a marital counselor, who just tells them to make love. But after that, we never hear of the counselor again and whether the counseling helped at all.

The acting, though, is most certainly better than most local dramas of this sort. Goma’s role here is somewhat reminiscent of his role in “The Trial”. He’s a doctor here and a lawyer there, but in both films, he plays a husband contemplating on annulling his marriage after his relationship with his wives was both adversely affected by the unexpected death of their son. Goma is the prized possession in “Love Affair”, the man both his leading ladies want to have when the truth is, we can’t understand why he can’t forgive Dawn (who keeps professing her love for him) when her supposed dalliance with Tonton was not even consummated, whereas that of his with Bea was consummated on the rocks in a craggy beach, na para bang wala silang pang-hotel man lang. So what’s the big deal?

Honestly, the conflict seems so manipulative and contrived. Just like the usual scene in Star Cinema flicks where it suddenly rains when the female characters are feeling so down and alone. Here, it rains when Goma orders Dawn to get out of the car in the middle of the street and when Bea resigns from her job and tries to get a taxi. There are also the usual chance encounters. Goma and Bea always see each other by accident: at the coffee shop, at the beach, at the hospital. We mean, what are the odds? But as they say, there’s this thing called tadhana, di ba?

Dawn looks so beautiful on screen and she comes up with a well controlled portrayal of the wronged wife, handling her every scene with poise and dignity. But since Bea is the Star Cinema property here, she has the better written role. Actually, her Adie is more of a doormat. Her own dad (Al Tantay) left their family and it was Tom Rodriguez’s family who took care of her. But Tom dumps her because she’s reportedly too controlling. She resigns from Tom’s law office and applies to that of a former classmate (Victor Silayan, in a good supporting role) who makes the moves on her and treats her badly, and yet she unexplainably continues to work for him. And on top of that, she agrees to have an affair with Goma even if she knew that he’s still very much married to Dawn and they have several kids. That’s why when friend Ina Feleo slaps her several times “para siya matauhan”, it’s Ina we want to hug and not Bea.

But through it all, Bea’s acting remains unscathed, still managing to deliver an engaging and sympathetic portrayal despite the inconsistencies and “kalukahan” of her character. To show how important Bea is for Star Cinema, she is the one shown on the film’s final scene and she says “I found myself”. How she arrived on that realization, we can never fathom, but it does sound like a nice ending for the film, doesn’t it?