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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.

Dec 20, 2017

All Of You Movie Review: A Close Examination Of How People Fall In And Out Of Love, Presented In A Very Realistic Manner Minus All The Usual Loud Melodrama

THERE are a lot of incisive films that take a close, serious look at relationships in crisis. This year, we just had “12”, written by Alessandra de Rossi and directed by Dondon Santos, about a couple who’ve been together for 12 years and how their relationship eventually deteriorated. And now, we have “All of You”, also a dissection of how a couple fall in and out of love after they’ve lived in for three years, with Jennylyn Mercado as Gabby and Derek Ramsay as Gab.

The film starts with the breakup of Jen’s relationship with her grouchy boyfriend (Rafael Rosell) in a public parking lot. After two years, she goes to Taiwan for a work-related trip and, through a dating app, she meets Derek. They instantly make a connection and the night ends with them sleeping together.

They continue their affair in Manila. The relationship is new and fresh, so they can’t get enough of each other. Each giddy moment is full of “lambingan” and sweet nothings. Derek asks Jen to move in with him. And she does. But as we all know, life is not like a Disney fairy tale and not all couples have a happily ever after.

Soon, Jen starts to intrude on Derek’s life, even urging him to give up smoking for her. Other things crop up, seemingly small and petty, but testing and eroding their crumbling relationship in a major way as this can be quite emotionally exhausting, eventually making them unhappy. About the smoking, Derek doesn’t stop. On the contrary, it’s Jen who picks up the habit and starts smoking herself.

Abroad, a film about a well intentioned couple who get to sink so low as they fall into a pit of emotional abuse is “Blue Valentine”, with Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling giving great performances as they go through the highs and lows of their marriage, making it an unflinching look at heartbreak. In local films, it’s very common to see warring lovers trying to outshout each other, even resorting to toxic violence every now and then.

What makes “All of You” different is that it tries to avoid this kind of loud melodrama. The situations projected on screen are all real, presented as naturalistic slices of reality as mutual dissatisfaction grows, and not the manipulative exchanges we see in mawkish soaps. Anyone who’s been in a relationship will recognize what’s going on and the emotions at play.

This is the forte of Dan Villegas which he has shown before in his previous films, like “Always Be My Maybe”, “Breakup Playlist”, “How to Be Yours”, and he does it with his own distinctive style and rhythm.

Both Jen and Derek try to treat each other with unabashed honesty and unvarnished truth, so you know that eventually, despite the cracks in their relationship, it will somehow not totally fall apart and their reconciliation is deservedly earned to achieve true intimacy after an exhausting bout with romantic malaise. Everything is presented in believable detail, unlike in “12” where most of the exchanges between the two characters are presented mostly in generalities.

Both Jennylyn and Derek give outstanding, engaging performances in their respective roles, but it is Derek who comes out with the phenomenal portrayal of a man who is stripped down to the bone, showing genuine emotion and eventually eating his pride to prove his true love for Jen.

He truly excels in that wrenching scene where he even kneels down in front of Jen while they’re arguing on the roadside, making the compelling scene all his own and nearly blowing Jen off the screen. This fiery encounter is in total contrast to the final scene which is quite restrained, silent and not much dialogue are even exchanged.

We’ve seen other films like this before in this kind of sub genre and, as a viewer, we always hope that the characters will survive the crisis. Somehow we feel sad when they don’t make it, like what happened in “12”. As an active volunteer in the Discovery Weekend marriage preparation program, we try to help couples on how to conduct dialogue in a loving, positive, compassionate way. How we really wish all married couples would learn to do it as it will lead to healing and no doubt help avoid ugly heart rending scenes full of acerbic bitterness and distressful recrimination that only result into a painful and total breakdown of communication.