Published On: Sun, Mar 1st, 2020

‘Us Again’ review: Too slight to work

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US AGAIN. Jane Oineza and RK Bagatsing in 'Us Again.' Screenshots from YouTube/Regal Entertainment Inc

US AGAIN. Jane Oineza and RK Bagatsing in ‘Us Again.’ Screenshots from YouTube/Regal Entertainment Inc

The biggest problem of Joy Aquino’s Us Again isn’t that it’s bad, because it isn’t.

It’s only slight, or more accurately, so much of a big thing for something so slight.

Sparse romance

The movie’s another iteration of the sparse romance that became a fad after the surprise success of Antoinette Jadaone’s That Thing Called Tadhana (2014). They’re love stories that skirt complicated storylines to concentrate on maximizing the chemistry existing between fictional lovers. Us Again definitely has a bit more plot, but maintains a fervent interest in hinging its conceit on the rapport between its leads.

The movie imagines the love story of Margie (Jane Oineza), a med student, and Mike (RK Bagatsing), an artist, is worthy of a plot twist that has supernatural inclinations.

However, the romance itself is unspectacular. At worst, it is objectionable, in that it downplays infidelity all for the sake of personal happiness. The problem here really is that the movie just doesn’t do enough to convince that Margie and Mike are truly meant for each other, as it lazily limits itself to mundane conversations and cutesy interactions rather than true tests of love.

The relationship that the movie sells as something that should last beyond breakups and mortality is banal. While it can be argued that the movie champions modern-day relationships built on fun-time conversations, random trips to the beach, and an aversion to maturing, the movie just feels too constrained by its own smallness. Simply put, the movie’s love story and its joys and heartbreaks aren’t worth investing on. They’re paltry.

Far-fetched fantasies

It’s unfortunate, really.

Both Bagatsing and Oineza are plausible here. They are convincing, whether they are peddling the pleasures of being in love or the woes associated with it. Us Again would have fared better had it clipped the ambitions of its measly romance, kept it earthbound instead of ornamenting it with an outrageous twist. There is enough in the film to be a harmless distraction, to be an unremarkable but still amusing portrait of another relationship that is meant to closely represent real ones.

Us Again, however, is just too desperate for novelty, too eager to set itself apart from the rest of the economic romances that have been churned out after Tadhana.

It fantasizes itself to be a grand tragedy. Sadly, its fantasies are far-fetched. The movie is only tolerable when it keeps itself within reach, when it still aspires to be a reflection of the prosaic facets of being in love, of dealing with routine problems of relationships. When it starts to recklessly indulge in more drastic and overtly emotionally manipulative plot directions, the movie becomes flimsy and dubious.

ONE NIGHT. Margie (Jane Oineza) and Mike (RK Bagatsing) find themselves spending more time together.

ONE NIGHT. Margie (Jane Oineza) and Mike (RK Bagatsing) find themselves spending more time together.

A pass for effort

Still, Us Again gets a pass for effort.

It is at least competently constructed, with a consistent mood that allows the romance to work before it crashes and burns by way of a needless plot twist. – Rappler.com

Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ Tirad Pass.

Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.

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