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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.

Jul 11, 2016

The Achy Breaky Hearts Movie Review: Jodi Sta. Maria Perfectly Sums Up What The Movie Is In Her Meaningful Line At Film's Final Scene

‘THE ACHY BREAKY HEARTS’ is the latest romcom offered by the film factory that is Star Cinema. The difference is that it combines two love teams involving Jodi Sta. Maria. First is with Richard Yap from “Be Careful with My Heart”, then with Ian Veneracion from “Pangako Sa’Yo”. Jodi’s shows with these older guys are both big hits and it’s a great idea to put them all together in one movie. The theatre is still full of people when we watched it at Trinoma late in its second week of showing.

Writer-Director Antoinette Jadaone starts well with a prologue about how hard it is for single women in their 30s to attend social gatherings where “well meaning” relatives almost always ask them the same question: “Kailan ka mag-aasawa?” It’s as if being single is a crime and your life will never be complete without a man in your life. Usually, the lead character, Jodi as Chinggay, doesn’t respond and just smiles sweetly but, at one point, she gets peeved for being pressured and replies with sarcasm: “E, kayo, kailan kayo mamamatay?”

Chinggay has been unattached for seven years after she broke up with Frank (Richard), who became unfaithful to her. She works as the manager of a jewelry shop and is the breadwinner in her family sending her younger sister (Miles Ocampo) to college. She has three friends (Erika Padilla, Desiree del Valle and Denise Joaquin, all very competent) with whom she has dinner regularly to talk about their love life (or the lack of it).

She seems resigned to the idea of never finding her one true love, but then, Frank suddenly returns to her and she also finds a possible new romance in a customer, Ryan (Ian), who’s just been dumped by his girlfriend on the day he’s about to propose to her with a pricey engagement ring. The movie then becomes a series of “kilig” moments where Jodi juggles her time between the two guys: singing “Sasakyan Kita” with Ian via cellphone while they’re both driving their own cars, trying to find a house with Richard for her sister Miles who is suddenly infanticipating, courtesy of her boyfriend (Khalil Ramos.)

Most of these scenes do work. Credit Jadaone for cooking up hilarious feel good situations that the largely female and gullible audience, who are suckers for romance, lap up with glee. After all, this remains to be escapist entertainment and it surely accomplishes its intentions, thanks mainly to Jodi who is very good as Chinggay. Jadaone makes sure that her character is likeable and sympathetic and the way Jodi plays her makes Chinggay even more cute,charming and adorable, without being downright silly or obnoxious even in that scene where she is dancing while crying after realizing that Ian is still in love his ex. Ian and Richard, in turn, have their own appealing moments on screen and female viewers will surely root for them.

Of course, men are portrayed as heels in the movie, from Frank who was unfaithful Jodi, to the boyfriend (Ian Batherson) of Jodi’s assistant (Beauty Gonzales, very good in a short role) and the dad of Denise Joaquin’s love child who abandoned them. It’s only Ian who is jilted, by Sarah Lahbati, who replaces him with John Spainhour, and he just can’t get over her.

Not everyone agrees with the kind of non-fantasy ending Jadaone gives to the movie. Some folks think it’s a cop out as they prefer the usual fairy tale happy ending. Some quarters agree with the kind of conclusion Jadaone gave the movie and believe it’s a perfect nod to women empowerment. But we think that Jodi’s character herself perfectly summed up what the movie is all about in the film’s final scene when, after so many years of not seeing them, she suddenly finds herself sandwiched between Ryan and Frank. She blurts out: “Joke ba ‘to?”

And yes, we agree with that, the movie is actually a big joke. And it is played on us.