When it comes to romantic-comedy films especially in Hollywood, the name that easily comes to my mind is Nora Ephron, who also wrote a novel titled Heartburn in 1983, but she also wrote a screenplay and directed ‘Julie and Julia’ in 2009, which starred Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, and Chris Messina; thus stumbling upon this latest romantic-comedy offering of Regal Entertainment Incorporated–the Recipe for Love, I thought that it should be in that league of storytelling.
Having Jose Javier Reyes, who has worked on romantic-comedies as well, this project that will spotlight once again the humorous side of Christian Bables opposite Cora Waddell.
But what stuck in my head was what Ephron had wrote once in her novel titled ‘Heartburn’ (1983) that said: “Nothing like mashed potatoes when you’re feeling blue. Nothing like getting into bed with a bowl of hot mashed potatoes already loaded with butter, and methodically adding a thin cold slice of butter to every forkful. The problem with mashed potatoes, though, is that they require almost as much hard work as crisp potatoes, and when you’re feeling blue the last thing you feel like is hard work. Of course, you can always get someone to make the mashed potatoes for you, but let’s face it: the reason you’re blue is that there isn’t anyone to make them for you. As a result, most people do not have nearly enough mashed potatoes in their lives, and when they do, it’s almost always at the wrong time.”
The film is about Calix (Bables) , a chef named of an upscale Filipino restaurant and Val (Waddell), a food blogger and aspiring magazine editor.Though they may have started off on the wrong foot, would they eventually hit it off and romance start to mash well?
Apart from the tandem of Christian and Cora, the one thing that made Jose Javier Reyes convince to direct the screenplay of Raymund Barcelon who made a great analogy between food and relationships; it was also the idea of spotlighting Filipino cuisine like Cochinilla (roasted suckling pig) and Kare-Kare (stewed oxtail, pork hocks, calves feet, pig feet, beef stew meat, and occasionally offal or tripe complemented with a thick savory peanut sauce), which turned out to be his favorites.
On Wednesday, August 20, Regal Films’ latest ensemble romantic comedy flick titled ‘Somebody to Love’ opened in theaters nationwide with Jose Javier Reyes as director. The said movie is something that most movie buffs would like since it has been given a light and funny attack by Reyes who also had his hits like ‘Working Girls’ in 2010, which was a remake from the film of the same title that came out in 1984 with Ishmael Bernal as director and Amado Lacuesta as screenwriter, respectively.
‘Somebody to Love’ as a film is not unique in its treatment since it is reminiscent of two American ensemble romantic movies—Valentine’s Day (2010) and New Year’s Eve (2011), respectively. But prior to that, there was this British Christmas-themed romantic comedy film written and directed by Richard Curtis, titled ‘Love Actually’ that was released in 2003. The utilization of montage of split screens isn’t also new anymore since this type of technique has been used even in the polo scene in the 1968 film ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’. It seems a bit cliché, but still effective in presenting scenes happening simultaneously at a particular timeline.
However, what makes the film rather more interesting is its glossy quality and Reyes was able to provide a more relevant feel for today’s audience who could easily identify themselves with the characters.
What makes the film tick is the writer-director’s ability to knot all the characters in a seamless way, nothing that was comparable to the Cinemalaya 2014 entry titled ‘Separados’, which made me feel ‘too’ forcing through and find the connections of the characters ‘too’ coincidental.
Since this is an ensemble flick, no matter how the director tried his best to squeeze out the best of every actor included in the cast, there were some actors that failed with their character’s sake as well as in their respective scenes. Two actors really need to work hard in their acting skills—Isabelle Daza as Valerie Schulmann and David Chua as Sophie’s (Maricar Reyes) philandering husband.
Daza is the type of actress that will behold men, but she’s someone whom I can’t be enrolled with her brand of acting. Her acting in the film ‘Lihis’ was still evident here and I couldn’t even comprehend the sort of acting she is trying to show to Filipino viewers. A scene where she delivered the lines: ‘There was never an ‘us’… there was a ‘me’, there was a ‘you’, but never an ‘us’—was too bland and not unconvincing enough to feel the emotions required in that scene. Was she talking to a wall? Matteo Guidecelli as Tristan Villarama was with her in that scene and she’s supposed to feel disappointed with their setup.
Chua, on the other hand, was also ‘too’ uptight in most of his scenes, but he even looked awkward when he uttered his lines: ‘Tanggapin na natin ang katotohanan. You can’t have children.’ I am sure that this Star Magic artist will still be able to show what he can offer other than his well-sculptured physique; maybe with more Kapamilya series and with the exposures that comes with it—he will be harnessed his acting skills even the more.
But the flaws won’t be that obvious since scene-stealers like Iza Calzado, Kiray Celis, Ella Cruz, Beauty Gonzalez, and Cai Cortez provided all the comic reliefs. Calzado was effective in her role as Marga Castro, the TV host personality who could not find a lovelife or have a relationship. Her character’s craziness is despised by his subordinates played by Cruz and Cortez. Celis, the hopeless romantic young lady who dreams of finding her ‘Mr. Right’ ended up falling for a gay man. Cruz, who just turned 18 in real-life, gave a complete transformation here as the young lady involved with a fitness trainer named Jayson, who happens to take advantage on women’s weaknesses for guys like him. She was effortless in acting out a young woman who goes after her boyfriend.
Gonzalez, a true Cebuano-sounding newcomer also have her moments especially when she tries to rain on Chloe’s parade; regarding her friend’s fantasies over a gay man. Cortez, the theater artist who ventured into film will always be remembered in her scene where she maltreated her ‘unconscious’ woman boss Marga.
Other scene-stealers in the film are the two lead actors—Jason Abalos as Nicco, Sabrina Madrilejos’s guy best friend played by Carla Abellana and Matteo Guidecelli as Tristan Villarama, the bachelor business magnate who finds Valerie, her long-time female friend as a bedmate whenever he feels doing it. Both men tackled well their roles as they reflected two different setups of relationships. Nicco couldn’t express fully his feelings toward Sabrina and doesn’t have enough guts to make his friendship with his girl best friend take into a different level. Meanwhile, Tristan felt devastated to have found out that Valerie is about to commit herself to another man and this also led him to finding another woman and that is—Sabrina.
As a whole, the film is loaded with funny scenes that make its audience enjoy its entire running time. Reyes succeeded in providing equal exposures for his actors. The film can also be well-remembered because of the line that spells out truth in friends who fall in love with each other. The Carla Abellana lines can be relatable to its audience, somehow—‘Just don’t say anything. Anything that I will remember later on and will only hurt me more.’
What is most endearing about this Reyes’s film is that–it doesn’t teach or it doesn’t intend to be ‘preachy’ as well as provide ‘answers’, but it rather provoke its audience to reflect, and think about their ‘relationships’ in particular. As a director, he remains to dignify the women in the film even if at times they are portrayed as crazy biatches.
Also in the cast are Albie Casiño, Alex Castro, Manuel Chua, Lemuel Pelayo, and Natalie Hart. ‘Somebody to Love’ is still showing in cinemas in Metro Manila and the rest of the country.