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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.

Oct 15, 2018

Exes Baggage Movie Review: A Familiar Material Brought To Life Anew By The Scintillating Performances Of Its Lead Stars

DAN VILLEGAS’s latest fim, “Exes Baggage”, as the title connotes, is about ex-lovers and the respective baggage they carry. It’s about a man and a woman who meet, fall in love, break up, and reconcile. Of course, this is not something new for Dan as this is also how the basic matuerial of his past films like “English Only, Please”, “Breakup Playlist”, “Walang Forever”, “Always Be My Maybe”, “How to Be Yours” and “All of You”.

As a matter of fact, there are several scenes in “Exes Baggage” that make you recall similar scenes from these other past films, even the final scene where Carlo follows Angelica in the car is the same as the final reconciliation scene in “All of You” where Derek Ramsay also follows Jennylyn Mercado in the car. The stories of his previous works are the same and only the stars and some little details change.

“Exes Baggage” is not told in the usual chronological manner but starts in the present when they see each other by chance in the opening of a new bar. Then how their love affair starts after having bad breakups, blossoms, develops, predictably ends in another breakup and eventually leads to reconciliation, is told in a series of insightful flashbacks.

What makes it such a delight to watch is the very relaxed, effortless performances of the leads,
Angelica Panganiban as Pia, a real estate broker, and Carlo Aquino as Nix, a furniture designer. They have undeniable chemistry and the way they move and deliver their lines have no hint of artifice, all just very natural. It feels like you’re watching a real life couple. What helps to make the film more enjoyable, of course, is the knowledge that they are ex-lovers in real life (they started as Jelai and Junjun in “G-Mik” nearly 20 years ago), so there’s no hint of awkwardness between them at all.

We’re happy for Carlo that at 33, he has matured well and after playing supporting roles, he now gains romantic leading man status after this and “Meet Me at St. Gallen”. As for Angelica, she is just outstanding in playing not your usual lily white heroine here, but as what she herself describes wth so much honesty, someone who has bedded several other men and is also a drunkard. We’re not sure if she (or Arci Munoz and Jennylyn Mercado in Dan’s past films) represents and defines today’s average millennial career woman, but she’s definitely a far cry from the untarnished heroines played before by the likes of Gloria Romero and Susan Roces, for whom premarital sex is a no-no.

Some young folks today say it’s an antiquated belief. But we’re not here to delve on issues regarding the decline of our morality, we just want to say that Angelica is quite good, no, excellent in interpreting her role. And Villegas is really quite an expert when it comes to delineating the ebb and flow of today’s relationships not with big loud melodramatic face offs but with all its bittersweet nuances, aches and pains that young people can relate with. And this in a fairly well crafted film with good technical aspects, including a soundtrack where the main song, “Maybe the Night”, is a positive charmer and also a sure winner.