On "The Mistress"
CHANNEL SURFING - Althea Lauren Ricardo (The Philippine Star) - October 11, 2012 - 12:00am

It’s a little belated, I know, but I can’t let it pass. One of my favorite mainstream Filipino films is One More Chance, and ever since watching Popoy and Basha’s romance flicker out and spark up again in 2007, I haven’t missed any of the films featuring John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo, despite one mildly disappointing outing after another. One More Chance set the bar high, yes it did.

This is all just to say how excited I was when I first heard of The Mistress. Even if I first heard of it via rumors—later found to be true, but not to the level I had imagined—that Bea would have a love scene with Janno Gibbs’ father, Ronaldo Valdez. I couldn’t imagine Bea teaming up with Janno, much less his father!

Eventually, I figured it was a new, brave thing to do, as far as more recent mainstream Filipino films are concerned. So, why not?

I’m pretty sure you all know the story by now: Young troubled architect JD Torres meets the seemingly perfect seamstress (also called a mistress, according to a small vocabulary tidbit we pick up in the film) Sari Alfonso. Despite his way overused tantalizing gaze, fast cars, and devilish persistence, JD can’t seem to get the girl. It turns out she is already committed to someone else—his married father!

Other more interesting stories and characters lend more color to their story: There’s Carmi Martin as Sari’s mother, she of many favors and regrets; there’s Hilda Koronel as JD’s mom, she of the one love she despises; and there’s Anita Linda, the grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, she who is completely powerless from stopping the train wreck her beloved granddaughter’s life is slowly becoming.

I remember one scene that floated above all others: Anita Linda, having run away from home, trying to catch a rushing train by waving a broken umbrella.

I have to say, though, that John Lloyd and Bea still have the same amazing chemistry that made One More Chance unforgettable. While One More Chance was decidedly John Lloyd’s film, however, this time it’s Bea’s turn to take a bigger chunk of the spotlight.

The Mistress is beautifully shot, but I’m more a fan of the scriptwriter than the director. Vanessa Valdez, who co-wrote One More Chance, would have had another perfect mainstream hit if not for the heavy director’s hand. I appreciate the drama like any other typical Filipino movie fan, but must John Lloyd’s eyes really be another character all together? Must Sari giggle so while eating ice cream and looking at nothing in particular on the blah-ness that is C5?

Still, there was the saving grace of an ending that was left open, despite the more bankable version of boy and girl riding off into the sunset or the more predictable version of the mistress suffering for her sins: We see JD watching Sari from a distance, in his car, and then riding off into his commitments, perhaps moving on completely, perhaps moving on for now.

(Somewhere in the cinema I heard a whisper: Mama Torres is gonna pass on.)

I’m happy to see an Olivia Lamasan project again (she wrote and directed Sana Maulit Muli, after all), but I’d love to see more of Vanessa Valdez’s work.

Email your comments to alricardo@yahoo.com. You can text your comments to (63)9064979862.

ANITA LINDA BEA CARMI MARTIN HILDA KORONEL JANNO GIBBS JOHN LLOYD JOHN LLOYD AND BEA ONE ONE MORE CHANCE VANESSA VALDEZ
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