Till My Heartaches End (Jose Javier Reyes, 2010)
The young lovers in Jose Javier Reyes’ Till My Heartaches End have the easiest of romances. Unfettered by meddling family members, poverty, or other problems that stall the relationships of their counterparts in other movies, Powie (Gerald Anderson), a young man who ambitions to make his own name and wealth, and Agnes (Kim Chiu), a nursing graduate from the province who relocates to Manila to review for the board exams, get into a relationship without any issue.
After an encounter in a coffee shop where Powie was working and a fateful meeting in the heart of Manila that led to a lunch of cheap soft-boiled eggs covered in orange batter in the middle of a busy street, the two become inseparable. When Powie starts to earn more money as a real estate agent, the relationship starts to crack and reveal its weaknesses, starting with the impression that maybe Powie, whose ambition seems to precede everything else, and Agnes, whose naiveté in the affairs of the heart has rendered her vulnerable to the inevitable heartaches of being in a relationship, are not exactly compatible.
Reyes’ aim is to filter fantasy from the romantic film. In that sense, Till My Heartaches End plays like an account of an ordinary relationship, starting with the joys of falling in love for the first time and ending with the gnawing aches of expecting the inevitable conclusion to what used to be a perfect love affair. The only difference is that this account banks heavily on the individual charms of Anderson and Chiu and the chemistry that was manufactured specifically for their duo. Unfortunately, the moroseness of the material overwhelms the possible charms of Anderson and Chiu’s tandem.
The film, despite Reyes’ earnest attempts in recreating a love affair that started perfect but was not really meant to be and despite the momentary pleasures of Reyes’ consistently pleasant writing, is just very dull. Reyes’ film fails primarily for the very simple reason that the romance that is at its center so torturously tedious and its participants so obnoxiously obsessed with whatever they’re obsessed with that caring for the couple and their relationship, as the movie moves along, gradually evolves to be a chore. Beyond the requisite gloss of the typical mainstream production, Till My Heartaches End pushes the boundaries of monotonous commercial filmmaking. Having Powie and Agnes’ love story unfold through the curiosity-triggered conversations of people around the couple seems to be an expendable storytelling conceit. With or without it, the film still struggles to make magic out of the mundane facets of what it believes to be the realities of falling in and out of love.
Its attempts in demystifying cinematic romance, derivative of the anti-romantic charmers from Hollywood like Marc Webb’s (500) Days of Summer (2009), is hurt by its own indecisiveness in whether or not it wants to map the life and death of a romantic relationship or it wants to betray that completely by hinting of the possibility of still a romantic happily-ever-after for the beleaguered and tortured lovers, as exemplified by the anti-climactic buss in the forehead that precedes not one but two telling instances where the girl looks back at her ex before singer Carol Banawa belts out a song about loving so stubbornly, it hurts.
Believe me, this hurts.
(Cross-published in Twitch.)