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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 18, 2022



‘IKAW LANG ANG MAHAL’ is the movie said to be the cause of the breakup of Kylie Versoza and Jake Cuenca. 

It’s said Jake got jealous of Kylie’s romantic scenes with her leading man, Zanjoe Marudo, although none of them won’t confirm it. 

When asked who was the last person to whom they’ve uttered the film’s title, Kylie coyly replied that for her, it’s her mother.

In the film, Zanjoe plays Andre, a documentarist who goes to Sagada to interview three national artists who live there: Joel Torre as a poet, Lara Morena as a painter, and Ronnie Lazaro as a filmmaker. 

Joel rebuffs him right away but he meets his niece, Lira (Kylie Versoza), a best selling novelist who becomes his bridge in getting in touch with all his subjects. 

But naturally, it’s easy to conclude that Zanjoe and Kylie will predictably fall in love with each other. 

The problem is that Zanjoe is so damn irresistible to women. 

In his first night in Sagada, he is immediately seduced by Ingrid (Cara Gonzales), a film director. 

Ingrid later makes advances to him again, he obliges again, and they have shameless steamy sex right in the corridor of the boarding house where they stay and where people passing by can see them. Ni hindi man lang pumasok sa kuwarto.

Soon, Zanjoe also makes love to Kylie and later on, with Lara Morena on their first meeting. 

The problem with Zanjoe is he thinks he is God’s gift to women and doesn’t know how to say no. 

He’s only too willing to satisfy all their raging urges for him. 

For a while, we thought he’s also going to hump his odd landlady, Evangeline Pascual, and we were kinda disappointed when he didn't.

Vivamax loyal subscribers won't be disappointed as there are nude sex scenes galore in all Zanjoe's sexual encounters with various his partners.

His most numerous sex scenes are with Kylie, specially that nude love scene on the grass while they’re picnicking amidst all the foggy Sagada surroundings. 

Even their countless “laplapan” scenes are so unabashedly graphic and done with gusto. 

This is Kylie’s most daring performance ever. We no longer wonder why Jake Cuenca got jealous.

Since the film’s milieu is a community of artists in Sagada, there is palpable artistic pretensions all throughout the film, including poetry readings, discussions about analog and digital art, yada yada yada. 

Some of the actors delivering lines about art and the like obviously don’t fully grasp what they’re talking about and are just mouthing them. 

The best in the cast is Kylie as the very vulnerable Lira, a damaged soul who’s been troubled since her parents died in a car crash.

She obviously has a death wish and it’s easy to guess where the story is going to give it a bittersweet conclusion. 

Kylie has the makings of an instinctively good drama actress and she’s very credible in delivering all her English lines persuasively.

Zanjoe is quite miscast as Andre. He doesn’t have the smoldering combination of self-centeredness and sensitivity that the role calls for. 

But he is only too willing to disrobe and do the sex scenes. And for Vivamax loyalists, that would be enough to recompense for whatever is lacking in his portrayal of Andre. 

We won’t comment anymore about the supporting performances that range from being quite capable to outrageously hysterical. 

The film is directed by Richard Somes, who’s better known for his action and horror flicks. 

He’s very good in his storytelling and the film’s technical aspects are all superior, particularly the cinematography that captured the pristine beauty of its locale. 

But he doesn’t seem that much of an expert about the artistic milieu the film focuses on, which would be best in the hands of someone like Ishmael Bernal. 

But it’s a good first try and a most welcome deviation for him. It’s nice to know he’s capable of doing other kinds of films.

In the Q&A that followed after the screening, Kylie thanked Zanjoe for being such a gentleman, always protecting her and guiding her specially in their delicate romantic scenes. 

Well, it’s really apparent that they worked so well together and there’s truly a distinct spark between them.

“Ikaw Lang ang Mahal” is now available on Vivamax in its early access screening.