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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.

May 30, 2017

Dear Other Self Movie Review: Jodi Santamaria Is Wasted In This Boring Film With Two Stories That Do Not Really Go Anywhere

AS A DIRECTOR, we like Veronica Velasco’s hilarious absurdist comedy, “Last Supper No. 3”, and the fairly touching drama, “Inang Yaya”. She was not as successful in “I Do” and “Tuhog” and the same can be said about her latest effort, “Dear Other Self”, which is reminiscent of “Sliding Doors” starring Gwyneth Paltrow where the story flits back and forth between two alternate realities.

In “Dear Other Self”, Jodi Santamaria is Becky Macadaeg, a young woman who acts as their family’s breadwinner shouldering all their bills. She is tired of her work in an ad agency and wants to just resign. She dreams of being a blogger who’ll travel the world so she can experience winter and wear boots.

The film then cuts back and forth from two different scenarios. In one story, she doesn’t resign but stays home, finding romance in the straight-laced Cris (Joseph Marco) who’s so hostile and “sungit” in one moment then suddenly becomes all sweetness and light in the next.

In the alternate “what if” story, she goes to Thailand and finds romance in the vagabond Henry (Xian Lim), with whom she has supposedly cute scenes like a pillow fight and a water gun fight with street kids. But how can she call herself a travel blogger when all the place she visited is Thailand (which looks so dull without a visit to the sinful Phat Phong)?

Jodi gets to sport different haircuts in the film, which helps us to distinguish between the two stories which are about the choices we make in life. But the fact that it later becomes difficult to differentiate which one is real and which one is imagined makes it difficult for the viewer to relate with any of them.

The film poses the question: which is better, to stay home and fulfill your duties to your family, or follow your dreams and responsibilities as an obedient daughter be damned. In the end, it doesn’t offer any answers because Jodi as the main protagonist has the obligatory happy ending and gets the two different guys in both stories.

Honestly, we don’t get to sympathize with Jodi’s character at all and the gimmicky plot device using two stories, that is the film’s main comeon, becomes a mere cinematic contrivance that proves to offer no concrete satisfaction at all. It’s just like Jodi wants to have her cake and she is able to eat it, too.

The movie offers two narratives in one, so it must be interesting viewing, but the truth is it feels like you’re in Dullsville as the boringga factor is so strong in both stories that don’t really go anywhere life-changing or offer anything new at all. You don’t even get to know in the end whether Jodi did make a right decision and is it the right decision? And the even sadder part is that we really don’t care, we just don’t give a damn.

Jodi is her usual perky self as Becky but she’s actually wasted in this project as even her inherently winsome charisma is not enough to save the save the shortcomings of the clumsy script. Her leading men lend some good presence but sorry to say that they just do not have much gracious chemistry with Jodi, who seems to fare better with leading men who are older and not younger than her. All in all, you’d wish you also had a dear other self and you’re watching another movie instead.