I recently watched a Filipino movie at the Century 8 in North Hollywood and it was far from perfect but I loved it nevertheless. Starting Over Again starred dramatic Filipino actor, Piolo Pascual and comedienne, Toni Gonzaga. I was never a fan of these two though admittedly, I wouldn’t mind sitting for two hours to watch Papa P on the big screen.
The movie started in the middle of the story where Piolo’s character, Marco was writing a letter using letterlater.com. This site allowed him to write to Toni’s character, Ginny and to have the letter delivered at a chosen future date – in this case, 4 years later. So we then knew that the two had already broken up and Marco didn’t know why. The audience also was not given any hint on the reason for Ginny to leave Marco. We had to wonder why when Ginny basically chased after Marco while she was still in college and he was a professor.
I liked how the movie tackled their breakup – subtly. The audience would get hints from the phone conversation between Ginny and Marco that the inevitable separation of ways was about to come. It was also impressive that the movie was able to show both sides of the breakup without destroying either Ginny or Marco. It was like having two of them as your friends. You listened to each of their sides of the story and you just couldn’t pick a side because you understood and felt them both.
The only flaw I would say was the use of such Rom-Com cliche – the scene where Marco was trying to stop Ginny from leaving and OF COURSE, it had to be raining and his knees gave way and so he sat in the middle of the road (with no other cars!) drenched while crying and looking after the cab that started to fade away.
The Main Characters
Ginny was the go-getter. Right from the start, she knew what she wanted and how to get it at all costs – whether it was embarrassing or difficult, she would do it to show her sincerity and desire. Her character was consistent as shown when she was chasing after Marco, when she was chasing after her dreams and when she was doing everything in her power to steal him from his present girlfriend, Patty. Normally, I (for personal reasons) would downright hate a character who would try to steal somebody else’s man but Director Lamasan’s Ginny was not hate-able (even for me). There was a scene when I almost wanted to hate her for divulging a recent intimate encounter between her and Marco to Patty in order to convince the latter to leave Marco. Ginny believed that she had to tell Patty all the gruesome details because she didn’t trust Marco to make a decision.
Marco’s character was fleshed out through the different aspects of the movie and the audience was able to see how his character developed from young teacher, failed small business owner, culinary arts student drop-out to confident executive chef. I liked how the director was able to transition his character smoothly as the movie progressed.
Patty was the confident, mature, present girl friend. She was painted as a perfect woman – beautiful and smart. She seemed like someone who would never get dirty in a fight and what I loved about her character was the confidence she exuded from beginning to end. It was realistic confidence. Every woman would have some sort of insecurity no matter how beautiful or smart they were and she showed that in her little ways without abandoning her self-trust. In the same scene I mentioned earlier between Ginny and Patty, I half expected Patty to lose her composure, scream like a woman scorned and beat Ginny to a pulp. After all, Ginny was skinny! Seriously, I loved how Patty’s character handled the situation – despite the pain of knowing her boyfriend slept with his ex, she still maintained her class. It was almost unbelievable so it was a welcome sight when they showed her leaving then pausing to cry and I saw all the pain registered on her face – it made her real. I felt her when she said, “Ang lungkot lungkot siguro talaga ng buhay mo…”
It was a 80/20 for me. I loved 80% of the dialogue and found the rest quite cheesy. Some of the 80% I quoted below:
“Our love may be quiet and boring but it is sure, with the right amount of trust and love and even an allowance for mistake. I love him and in love, there is no fear…” – Patty
“My love for you is greater than your failures.” – Patty
“I still love you but in a different way now.” – Marco
“Try mo lumaklak ng realidad.” – Ginny’s friend
“Grabe ka kasi magmaganda, puro ka naman panga!” – Ginny
“Wala kang karapatan hingin ang pinagdamot mo. I deserve an explanation. I deserve an acceptable reason.” – Marco
I liked that little scene prior to Ginny and Patty’s confrontation where the latter was decorating a cake for Marco. There was a dialogue where baking and cooking were used as metaphors for the kind of personalities or love the two women had. Ginny was like cooking – warm, exciting and flexible whereas Patty was like baking – precise and accurate. Ginny was trying to imply that Marco would be happier with her because with her, the relationship would flourish more. I just wished that when both women were executing this exchange, they sounded more convincing.
As for the 20%, I didn’t particularly liked the lines where Marco was “tasting” Ginny and was comparing her taste to emotions – “maasim, nakakakilig.” I wasn’t sure if it was the lines or the execution that made it really cheesy for me.
Filipinos had always been suckers for happy endings. And this was what I loved about this movie – it was a happy ending for the two characters who I thought should have ended up together. It was just realistic and right for Marco to choose Patty over Ginny. Despite the fact that he loved her so much, four long years had already passed and during such time, he moved on with his life. Patty’s character was built up in a way that the FILIPINO audience could not help but adore her. I was rooting for her in the end because I felt that if Marco chose to start over with Ginny, it would have been wrong.
But of course, the director could not resist making sure that Ginny would also have a happy ending. It was some sort of consolation for the Filipino rom-com fans who were hoping Ginny and Marco would get back together. Therefore, the movie showed her finding a new man (with real life boyfriend in a cameo role).
I would say that Starting Over Again was in the same category as One More Chance – it would be a Pinoy romance classic that future generation would watch over and over again.