The last film that Aga Muhlach made that I saw was four years ago. Since I am not from the Philippines, I was referring to the 2008 movie called "When Love Begins". It has a disastrous rating at IMDB at 4.5/10 and I gave it a 1/10 due to the non-chemistry Aga Muhlach and his leading lady Anne Curtis. I suggested in that movie review that it is time for Aga to refrain from playing his stereotypical handsome characters and use his acting talent instead considering he has above average acting talent among Filipino actors and by Philippine cinema standards. It took me another four years to view another film of his.This time,I saw the 2011 film entitled "In The Name Of Love" that was released seven years ago. Has Aga in his 40's started to refrain from his so-called "brand" of playing stereotypical handsome characters? Have Filipino films improved over the years? The last Filipino movie I saw was Cesar Montano's 2006 "Ligalig", which apparently is a poor imitation of the French film "Haut Tension" a year ago.
Before I answer those question, I would talk about Olivia Lamasan's "In The Name Of Love". The film stars Aga Muhlach together with Angel Locsin and Jake Cuenca. It tells a story in a non-linear fashion about the love story of Emmaneul Toledo, who uses the name Gary Fernandez in his fake passport and better known as Emman, and Mercedes Fernandez,who is better known as Cedes. It tells from the time they first met in Japan when they worked as dancers until they met again 7 years later a province in the Philippines. Emman got into prison upon going home due to money laundering. But later, we got to see Cedes,who is now engaged Dylan Evelino,who is now part of the political clan of the Evelino family in the province where Emman is located. Then things became complicated when Emman was hired as a dance instructor for Cedes in preparation for the Governor's Ball considering that her fiancé Dylan has considered accepting his father's invitation to for political aspiration for the clan to remain control of the province. Both Emman and Cedes go through the intricacies like avoiding an affair as they go through the dance practice. We also got to see how their how their love relationship went through the years via flashbacks as well.
Let's answer the first question. Now that Aga,who is now in his 40's when this movie was released, has he already stopped playing handsome characters that many women desired? Apparently,Aga's "brand" have been entrenched in his movies. The mere fact that it was the woman - Cedes - who courted the man - Emman - remains in the storyline is a proof of that. We may argue that they did it for comedy's sake, but we should now realize that Aga's "brand" - playing handsome characters - will has been fully entrenched for rest of his film career. Although I must admit that he gave a good performance in this movie, the Aga "brand" will always be present in his movies.
Let's answer the second question. Have Filipino movies improved and are better to watch nowadays? In fairness to the movie, it had a lot of interesting themes like poor Filipinos working overseas to provide for their families, the dirty and corrupt nature of Philippine politics, and the many intricacies that both Emman and Cedes face in their new relationship as dance instructor and student respectively.Too bad that poor melodrama and happy endings have been entrenched in Philippine cinema and will live on for many years to come. It could have been a good movie but the quest for happy endings particularly the assassination scene at the conclusion made the movie felt contrived, clichéd and formulaic. It was obvious that the scriptwriters - Olivia Lamasan and Enrico C. Santos - wanted Emman and Cedes to stay together that is why Emman survived despite being shot and Dylan died in the assassination scene. Too bad that the conclusion ruined what could have been a good movie. It is evident that happy endings and poor melodrama will always be part of Filipino movies.
Philippine cinema could improve if they adapt Korean cinema, who has love for sad and bitter endings, in some of their movies, instead of the happy endings like Hollywood does all the time. Besides, life is not a bed of roses. Movies should start to portray reality rather than having a happy endings all the time.
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