Jun Lana's YESTERDAY, TODAY & TOMORROW loses punch midway through all those histrionics
(Warning: SPOILERS!) YESTERDAY, TODAY & TOMORROW (1986) was a film by the prolific "Maning" Borlaza, topbilled by Vilma Santos, Snooky Serna, Maricel Soriano, Gabby Concepcion and Richard Gómez. Jun Lana's newest work is an in-name-only remake, with the conceit of retaining Concepcion and Soriano (but as new characters). From the word go, YTT has the gloss and pathos, giving it a superior edge over the other (lackluster) MMFF entries. In a nutshell, Concepcion is living with a second wife (Carla Abellana) but discovers he still loves his ice-queen wife (Soriano), scion to a top TV network -- a hapless discovery drawn out amidst grief and angst after the death of their daughter (Eula Caballero). Soriano's ruthlessness extends to her siblings (Jericho Rosales, Solenn Heusaff) and the resentful daughter, but she's properly deferential to her paraplegic father (Ronaldo Valdez), the brains and founder of the TV network. Interwoven into this tale of sibling contretemps is the brewing marital discord between TV executive Jericho and wife Lovi Poe, a band singer (both of them too busy to be a hands-on parent to their infant), and the developing affair between Valdez's initially loving wife (Agot Isidro) and her hunky gym instructor (Dennis Trillo). Add to the fray Heussaff's disinterest in her boring boyfriend (Paulo Avelino) and a chance meeting with her mom's gym instructor, whom in the first place she doesn't know is shacking up with her mom. Lana was initially a scriptwriter (his first work was 1998's SA PUSOD NG DAGAT, a powerfully written drama) known for JOSE RIZAL (1998), SOLTERA (1999), SA PARAISO NI EFREN (1999) and RED DIARIES (2001), and who became prolific with his teleplays for innumerable television soaps. Lana's unremarkable debut as director (2006's GIGIL with Katrina Halili and Alfred Vargas) was followed by a neatly-written sleeper (2007's ROXXXANNE), and after two supernatural flicks (2008's KULAM, 2009's TAROT), he got the hang of it with the wife-swapping film MY NEIGHBOR'S WIFE (drawing surprisingly competent performances from the four principals, Lovi Poe, Jake Cuenca, Abellana and Trillo). Alas, Lana stumbles slightly with YESTERDAY... the storyline is a veritable goldmine of rich and heavy drama, the loose ends are neatly tied, and the dialogue is often insightful and intelligent, but the characterizations are either shallow retreads (Abellana has practically the same character from MY NEIGHBOR'S WIFE) or unfathomable idioms (why is Soriano a bitch? why did the initially goody-two-shoes Isidro suddenly cuckold her spouse with a clingy younger lover? why is Avelino a bore (for Heusaff) even after hot love scenes?). Most disturbing of all, midway through these proceedings, Lana inserts a deux es machina thread ("It's about what happens to a family when faced with a tragedy, how it changes each and every member and how they deal with that tragedy that befalls them," Lana was quoted in a media interview). But really, do you need an earthquake as "tragedy" when the adulteries, lies and secrets are already potent "tragedies" unto themselves? Despite these wrinkles, Lana culls luminous performances from his stars, especially with Poe, Rosales, Heussaff and Trillo. The evocative music is a plus, and the set designs (tv network, beautiful houses) are truly all pomp and glitter. Hopefully Lana's next film can mine the characters more efficiently, for audiences to clearly understand their motivations and actions, just as he masterfully did with Jay Aquitania's closeted teenager in ROXANNE and Jomari Yllana's gritty male midwife in SA PUSOD NG DAGAT.
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