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03 May 2013

Ruel S. Bayani's "No Other Woman" (Review): How the Movie Betrayed its own Character and Other Appropriate and Accidental Silliness.

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This review was originally published in "The Chair" Blog. This is the updated 2013 version

“No Other Woman” has become of the highest grossing Filipino melodramatic films of all time.  In fact, recent movies like “A Secret Affair” and “The Bride and the Lover” attempted to duplicate the success of “No Other Woman.” But, does it deserve to be so commercially successful? Absolutely [exclamation point, exclamation point]. If you saw this film and did not enjoy it, then there may be something fundamentally wrong with you. [Hyperbole alert]  The film has everything for everyone, even a jaded moviegoer like me.  I left SM Cinema 4 [The Block] more satisfied and overjoyed than when I watched any Hollywood comedy.  In some parts of “No Other Woman," the shots were not correctly aligned to the theater screen that I saw more of the ceiling than the actors themselves. During close-ups, I was not able to see anything below the lips of the actors. Was that intentional or was the SM Cinema technician on a break?  Whatever it was, it only complimented the film rather than ruin it. The only real disaster in this film was the musical score; it was inappropriate and infuriating.

At the start of the movie, it was already apparent that it should not be taken seriously despite how it may have been marketed on television.  Ten minutes into the film, I saw more underdressed male Caucasian men than in Hugh Jackman’s “Reel Steel,” [which was supposed to be a testosterone-fueled flick.]  But I digress.  Next shot, Anne Curtis was seen wearing a swimsuit that looked like it should have been on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine.  Oddly, Anne’s eye-catching hot piece was appropriate. Imagine that. The spider web-like swimsuit was just something her character would wear. However, the movie may be littered with campy dialogues and scenes but it also tried, every now and then, to convince us that it was a serious dramatic movie.  Then, the film would suddenly pull us back to borderline silliness and into the hypnotic presence of the great Carmi Martin.

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But the real center piece of this film was Anne Curtis despite being handicapped by a middling script and sloppy direction.  Sinking her teeth in a stereotypical role of a liberal, amoral and sexually charged mistress, Anne showed glimpses of her potential as an actress.  Sure, many actresses have played this part countless of times before, but Anne managed to make the role more tolerable and entertaining to watch. With a perfect American accent and a spoiled and bored rich girl look, she was convincing.  Well, at least I was convinced. She was more than her gorgeous hair in this film; in fact, like her spidery swim suit and other scintillating outfits, her big mane was again, appropriate, in character so to speak.  The hair was just the right hairdo that her character would have. Now, was that accidental too? Maybe, but in her still moments and her subtle gestures when she did not have to deliver those awkward but campy lines, you could tell that the woman has hidden talent. If only someone in Star Cinema was smart enough to harness that; perhaps give her a real meaty role that will yank her away from her safety zone, something like what Natalie Portman did in “Black Swan.”

Unfortunately, at the latter part of the movie, the film itself betrayed Anne’s character by turning her into a lovesick pathetic mistress instead of a vicious woman who can have her men, and toss them away. You know, as real men do.  That is why I recommend that once Christine Reyes’ character asked Derek Ramsay’s character to leave, you should also leave the cinema.  For me, that should have been the ending.  That was the movie in my mind.  However, this is a Filipino dramatic film so we have to take the moral road.  In the end, the big winner were the men, forgiven and happily living a blessed family life but only after having their way with some of the most gorgeous women in Philippine cinema.  Would this movie have been a success if Christine Reyes were the one having an affair and then being forgiven in the end?  Anne’s character was called a snake, a squatter, a husband snatcher and a bitch.  Nobody called Derek anything except that “he made a mistake,” which in Philippine macho culture, expected and forgivable. But then, like the woman sitting beside me said, “If Derek Ramsay were to seduce me, I would never say no, single or married.” There you go.

 “No Other Woman” may be:

  1. a glossy sexy two-hour PG-13 soap opera made for theaters,
  2. a cautionary or moral tale about infidelity,
  3. a tour-de-force of accidental hilarity,
  4. Derek Ramsey, Christine Reyes and Anne Curtis’ elaborate audition piece for future projects,
  5. a money making venture for Star Cinema and Viva Films,
  6. a two-hour eye-candy extravaganza with a token story-line,
  7. or the next "Temptation Island," meaning the first "future camp" movie of the century

The choices are endless. The key to enjoyment is to decide for yourself what the movie is supposed to be, stick with your choice and you will have a blast. I know I did. I was laughing at some parts of the film but I also relished some of Anne’s subtle moments and envied Derek’s abs.  But definitely, being a polite and respectful moviegoer, I made sure my laughter was appropriate and not bothersome, kind of like Anne smoking in front of a laptop. 

(This review was originally published in "The Chair," October 20, 2011)

0 if this is a drama and 4 if this is a comedy
This review was originally intended to be written in Filipino, but in the spirit of the film, using English is more "appropriate."


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