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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.

Apr 25, 2023




VIVA’S NEW romance drama, “Sa Muli”, is about reincarnation which is not new since it’s been tackled before in “Maruja” (1967) starring Susan Roces and its remake (1996) with Carmina Villaroel.

 Vilma Santos also has a film about reincarnation, “Karma” (1981.)

Since those were made a long time ago, we now have “Sa Muli” as the reincarnation flick for today’s generation of much younger viewers. 

Written and directed by Fifth Solomon, it is a totally different take about reincarnation. This stars Xian Lim and Ryza Cenon playing three different characters in three different time frames.

Xian plays Victor more than a century ago in the 1900s, Nicolas in the 1950s and Pep, a writer of novels in the present time. 

In each of these periods, he falls in love with the same woman, Ryza Cenon as Aurora in the 1900s, Belen in the 1950s and Elly in modern times. 

The film starts in the present time and just shows flashbacks of their past lives. Xian’s Pep is aware that he is now on his third lifetime and he vividly remembers the love affair he had with the same girl twice before. 

He believes they are fated to be soul mates and he is confident that they will surely meet again in his present lifetime. 

And they do, but Ryza does not remember any of her past lives, so Xian decides to take her to the old towns of Taal, Batangas and Tayabas, Quezon, where they first met, to help her remember their previous love affairs. 

In their past two lives, their romance always ended tragically with the girl dying.  But this time, Xian swears he will fight such a tragic ending and he won’t allow to lose Ryza again in his life. 

He is determined to defy fate and give their story a different ending in the present time. 

And somehow, he succeeds, but there is a twist in how their story concludes that we were able to guess early on. We don’t know how viewers who prefer the usual happy ending will accept it. 

But it’s not the ending yet as there’s an epilogue of what happened to the characters 40 years later from 2020 where they make use of futuristic set designs and costumes.

 It’s a whimsical way of giving a  divergent conclusion to an already fanciful narrative and maybe, hopeless romantics would bite and enjoy it.

This is definitely a much better movie than writer-director Fifth Solomon’s last movie, “Single Bells”, an execrable comedy that simply failed in making anyone laugh. This has moments that really work and manage to be touching. 

But it you’d nitpick, we’re sure you’ll find some complaints about the period production design. But what the hell, the story managed to hold our attention even if we feel some scenes could have been trimmed to make the sluggish pacing much more snappy. 

Of the two leads, Ryza is consistently good in all her scenes, whether they be comedy or drama. 

She’s properly mahinhin and very proper in the 1900 and 1950 scenes (she’s best looking in the 1950s scenes with her superb make up and hairstyles) and cheerfully vivacious and bubbly as Elly in modern times. 

She was so funny in that scene where she convinces Xian that she remembers him in their past lives and Xian obviously believes her, then she burst out laughing telling him: “Gago!” 

And she is moving in that lengthy dramatic aria while talking to a picture of her dead mother.

As for Xian, he narrates the story and he does very good voice over narration. He also excels in the serious dramatic scenes where he cries quietly. 

It’s in the scenes where he is supposed to be comically lively and bouncy that he is not convincing. 

He obviously doesn’t know how to be spirited and kooky in a likeable way. 

Also, he doesn’t really have much of a chemistry with Ryza, but somehow, they succeed in making you cheer and root for them.