Scenes from a marriage through Jun Lanaâs eyes

Lana with real-life partner Perci Intalan. The only thing that will bind marriage is love.

Scenes from a marriage through Jun Lana’s eyes

Pablo A. Tariman (The Philippine Star) - January 16, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  The marriage profiles of two best friends are normal until the wives make an unlikely discovery — their perfectly normal husbands lead secret lives.

With this discovery, direk Jun Lana explores scenes from two marriages in his latest film, Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes.

The director said he thought of this story with his friend Elmer Gatchalian as far back as 2008 when the level of acceptance for LGBTQ issues and relationships was not as high as it is today. “But what’s interesting about coming out with the film a decade later is that we are now able to explore all the nuances of the relationships between the characters. Now the audience is much more aware, much more exposed and much more open. The overwhelming acceptance for Die Beautiful was proof of that.”

Indeed, there is a lot that everyone can relate to in his latest output. “It is about secrets, be it between straight or LGBTQ characters, and how you deal with it in a relationship. How would you react if your husband cheated on you? Now how would you feel if your husband cheated on you for another man? Now how would you feel if your husband still loves you, but he is not the man you thought he was? And what can you accept and not accept? I think the lead stars recognized that after reading the script, that this is not just about a spouse that was cheated on. There are many layers of emotions to explore.”

With Angelica Panganiban and Judy Ann Santos. His two Mrs. Reyeses delivered.

Which brings us to the state of “normal marriages” through looking glass without the façade. The director asks the question: These days, what is normal?

He expounds further: “If anything, what I like to challenge is the notion that there’s a cookie cutter template for what a marriage should be like. I think that’s what makes people unhappy — because they try to follow the template, bind themselves to the rules and conventions. But there is only one rule: Love. If you love the other person and accept him or her for who he or she is, then you define your own relationship. That’s what our two Mrs.  Reyeses will do. They will process what happened to their marriages and become exposed to the fact that life is not simply black or white.”

For the director, filmmaking was a long journey from films like Bwakaw, Barber’s Tales, Shadow Behind the Moon and Die Beautiful.

He believes he has evolved from being just an indie director to a successful mainstream practitioner. “In the past, I think people sensed that there is a mainstream and an indie side to me. But after Die Beautiful, I realized that I can connect with audiences even if I don’t necessarily follow a certain formula. In Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes, people will see a bit of Die Beautiful and, yet it’s also clearly made for a wide audience. I am lucky because this also happens at a time when the audience themselves are blurring the lines between mainstream and indie films.”

From experience, he cannot predict what movie audiences really want. “As I see it, audiences don’t really know. We can do all sorts of studies and research — but it’s always going to be referring to what they liked but not really what they will like. Because until they see the film, they won’t know. Who would have thought that they would relate to a transgender lead character in Die Beautiful? Or fall in love with Empoy in Kita Kita? Or empathize with Heneral Luna? Bottom line for filmmakers nowadays is you need to tell a story you believe in, in the best way you believe it should be told. Audiences will respond when they feel the sincerity and the truthfulness of your story and your storytelling.”

    The best part of Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes is that he had fun doing it and got the best from his lead stars. “I enjoyed the fact that my lead stars were so open to challenging themselves. Judy Ann (Santos) especially because this is not her comfort zone, she really had to push herself and dare herself to deliver a performance onscreen that is very different from her usual performances. And Angelica (Panganiban) — wow, she really is quite a performer. When the scene is funny, she is hilarious. When the scene is dramatic, she captures all the emotions just like that.”

For direk Jun and The IdeaFirst Company that he heads with Perci Intalan, 2018 is going to be an exciting year. “We produced Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s Mr and Mrs Cruz opening on Jan. 24, then Perci’s second full-length film My Fairy Tail Love Story opens Feb. 14, then Ivan Andrew Payawal’s first studio film Ang Pambansang Third Wheel in March. Then for my own projects, I have Ang Babaeng Allergic Sa Wi-Fi in production now. I am really excited about this because it’s a different kind of rom-com and we were all surprised that the teaser trailer already got six million views on Facebook alone!”

On the whole, Jun is grateful that Judy Ann, Angelica and even Star Cinema and Quantum Films believed in Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes. 

He concludes: “It’s definitely not your usual husband-wife infidelity story and yet it’s not your usual comedy either. After seeing a rough cut of the film, my co-writer Elmer said that it’s very much like Die Beautiful — you laugh, you cry but you also get surprised because you don’t know what the characters will do next and where the story will lead. I am excited to see how audiences will react to the film come opening day.”

Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes opens in cinemas tomorrow. It also stars JC de Vera and Joross Gamboa, along with Gladys Reyes, Cai Cortez, Carmi Martin, Nico Antonio and Andrea Brillantes.

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