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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.

Jan 23, 2018

Mr. And Mrs. Cruz' Movie Review: Ryza Cenon And JC Santos Both Give Persuasive Performances As Two People With Broken Hearts Who Meet By Chance In El Nido

RYZA CENON and JC Santos deliver sterling performances in the title role of “Mr. and Mrs. Cruz” that opens in theaters this Wednesday. The movie is focused mainly on just the two of them and the story’s setting, Palawan. They have a short sequence at the start shot inside the famous underground river but soon after that, they travel by land to the idyllic and beautiful El Nido and that’s where the rest of the story takes place.

Just like in the recent hit “Siargao”, this movie succeeds in capturing the pristine beauty of El Nido. Your immediate reaction after watching the film will certainly be: “Let’s go there!” The camera proudly explores and showcases the white sand beaches, the steep cliffs of surrounding islands, the clear waters of its lagoons and the dive sites teeming with exotic fishes. The underwater scenes where they go snorkeling and where Ryza meets Nemo are simply breathtaking.

The material is similar to recent films that dissect the joys and pains of relationships, like “100 Tula Para Kay Stella”, “12” and “All About You”. Both JC as Raffy and Ryza as Angela or Gela are nursing a broken heart. We won’t go into details of what happened to them so as not spoil it for you. Suffice it to say that JC goes to Palawan to forget about his past love while Ryza goes there to remember her own aborted romance.

They have a cute meeting at the airport and it turns out they’ll be joining the same tour and stay in the same resort. People think that they’re a couple because he’s Mr. Cruz and she’s Mrs. Cruz, not knowing that she’s working on her annulment. Just like in the “Before Sunset” and “Before Sunrise” movies starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, the characters are just shown talking, conversing, chatting and then doing more talking.

And what do they talk about? Nothing really earthshaking. They share their thoughts and personal philosophies about love, marriage, commitment, hurts, about Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and how foolish the ill fated young lovers were. The lines of dialogue written by Director Sigrid Andrea Bernardo range from being daft and amusing to being deep and through-provoking. Sometimes, you get the feeling that you’re just eavesdropping on their very personal interactions.

There’s obviously sexual attraction between Gela and Raffy, but Bernardo handles it with much patience so as not to break the magic that is slowly developing between them. And when it finally happens, it doesn’t really happen. We don’t want to go into that and we’ll just let you discover it for yourself.

We just feel, though, that the film is unnecessarily long for over two hours. There are a lot of scenes that just go on and on and can surely benefit from a lot of trimming to make the film less tedious and quicken the pacing. After this, we have more movies of this sort like "Meet Me is St. Gallen" whose trailer was shown at the press screening of "Mr. and Mrs. Cruz" that we attended. We're afraid that there's already a glut of such flicks and viewers might soon get tired of them.

But the movie still works, simply because both Ryza and JC are exceptionally good in their respective roles, interpreting it with the right mixture of flippancy and seriousness. Ryza handles a drunken scene in a bar brilliantly. And also the final scene when she deliberately refuses to give the film the obligatory feel good conclusion.

The ending is not your conventional happily ever after one, but, personally, we like it. For all you know, if the movie becomes a big blockbuster like Bernardo’s “Kita Kita”, they can make a sequel where the two major characters meet again somewhere in the city or another beautiful island. After all, their lives are still laid out before them and love might still be waiting around the corner.