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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.

Mar 4, 2016

Always Be My Maybe Movie Review: Arci Munoz Shines In Her First Starring Role In A Star Cinema Movie

‘ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE’ is the most charming feel-good rom-com to have come out of the Star Cinema movie factory so far. Dan Villegas injects new energy and a more vibrant spirit into the now tired and weary rom-com formula, further strengthening his reputation as one of our more inventive and reliable young directors today. Since he debuted in “Mayohan”, then “English Only Please”, “Breakup Playlist” and “Walang Forever”, he maintains a good track record and has yet to really fail us. (Unlike his partner Antoinette Jadaone who tripped in “All You Need is Pag-ibig”.)

Compared to the usual Star Cinema flick with its melodramatic twists and manipulative complications and tearful confrontational scenes, this one is actually very simple and that makes it even more endearing. The story just focuses on how love develops between the two leads. It’s more character driven so we really get to care for them as we really get the chance to know them better.

The story starts with them both being rejected. Jake (Gerald Anderson) proposes to his girlfriend but she tells him she has found someone new. Tintin (Arci Muñoz) thinks her boyfriend is about to propose to her but it turns out he’s just returning something to her. Crushed and depressed, she records her heartbreak on video that goes viral. Jake, in turn, withdraws from the world and stays in his own beach resort to nurse his heartache, where he meets Tintin by chance six months later.

They hit it off well, as friends. They try to introduce new prospective romances to each other. But you know how this kind of story goes, they eventually fall for one another. Their own feelings of insecurity, reluctance and fear of commitment get on the way. The film revolves on how they slowly break down the protective fences they’ve surrounded themselves with to avoid getting hurt and how they eventually own up and handle their feelings for one another.

Dan Villegas and his three scriptwriters (Partee Brinas, Jancy Nicolas and Patrick Valencia) succeed in slowly chronicling the somewhat painstaking process, the small ups and downs in the struggles of the two main characters that it becomes a real pleasure watching them as their love story develops on the big screen and they experience the joys and pain of being in love.

The material, told with humor and wit like in that scene where they play the game of “have you ever”, is aimed primarily at millennials who are more familiar with this kind of romance, have no qualms hopping into bed to have premarital sex and engage in one night stands with no strings attached. It’s something that “Friends with Benefits” tried but dismally failed to portray as it got mired in pointless drama and histrionics.
It helps, of course, that the two leads really do great jobs in their respective roles. This is really a surprise pairing because Arci has never worked before with Gerald. She’s been on the scene for ten years after joining GMA’7’s Starstruck 2, then moved to TV5 and then to ABS-CBN where she got the chance to shine in the soap “Pasion de Amor”. Gerald shows he’s really improving as an actor as the years go by. This is his most mature and daring role to date and we dare say that he has now surpassed his former ka-love team Kim Chiu who has not gone beyond the usual sweetie-sweetie roles even if she played a mistress in a recent film.

But Arci is the real revelation here. There are shots where she looks like Anne Curtis, but her portrayal of a free-spirited makeup artist, who acts tough but is actually vulnerable, reminds us of a young Maricel Soriano. She handles both her lovable hilarious and touching moments quite effectively, even in her instructional video scenes where she gives advice about makeup and love. She’s so fortunate that Star Cinema gave her this big break and we know this will open more doors for her.

And to top it all, she also has an unexpected engaging chemistry with Gerald. They seem like they genuinely love each other’s company. The movie’s technical credits are all way above average, particularly the cinematography and the musical score and the choice of songs used to highlight important scenes.