Thursday, December 31, 2009

I Love You, Goodbye (2009)

I Love You, Goodbye (Laurice Guillen, 2009)

In a film festival that showcases Philippine cinema in its most obnoxiously self-important, with festival films ranging from spectacle-filled pseudo-epics to overacted tearjerkers to undercooked slapsticks, I Love You, Goodbye, despite its own melodramatic excesses, is joyfully quiet, lyrical and close to being authentically moving. It grabs you immediately from the start, when Lizelle (Angelica Panganiban), the poor girlfriend of wealthy doctor Adrian (Gabby Concepcion), enters the house of her boyfriend's family, gets rudely ignored by her boyfriend's mother (Liza Lorena), insulted by her boyfriend's daughter Ysa (Kim Chiu), and overshadowed by her husband's ex-wife (Angel Aquino) who charmss everyone with her seeming perfection compared to Lizelle's enumeration of imperfection. Despite the onslaught of unfortunate eventualities of that night, she still ends up passionately making love with her boyfriend.

The introduction, swiftly and without need of narrative embellishments, summarizes the mess that Lizelle is trapped in. She thrives within a relationship that is solely grounded on a flimsy concept called love. The initial lovemaking scene, shot by Lee Meily in disarming close-up, exposing the uncovered bronzed skin of the lovers in intense embracing and kissing, scored by Von de Guzman who makes use of the saxophone to enhance the steamy mood, and directed with an unabashed sensuality by Guillen, is sinful to look at, not because of the abundance of flesh exposed but because it is simply an act of desperation, an act by lovers struggling amidst a reality that is against their union, a fantasy, although masked by the intoxicating feeling of romance. The plot thickens. Gary (Derek Ramsay), Lizelle's ex-boyfriend, returns, and woos Ysa so that she can get chance to win back Lizelle. Ysa eventually falls in love with Gary who can't reciprocate such adoration because he is still desperately in love with Lizelle.

Lizelle becomes the center of an intricate web of disjointed desires, misplaced adoration, and unavoidable compromise. Panganiban, whose angelic face betrays the seductive curves of her body, is quite a talented actress, gifted with an innate ability to efficiently convert emotions like restrained passion, repressed sadness, and emotional despair into heartfelt gestures, tears, and facial expressions. In one scene, where Lizelle and Gary are left alone in the beach, and allowed for the very first time since their separation to be honest with each other, Guillen aptly does away with music, allowing Panganiban to solely control the scene, puncturing the stillness of everything with a masterful display of whirlwinding emotions, of reminiscence of a lovely past and hope for an unattained future, of an unbearable loneliness and the comfort of a long-awaited release, of the utter confusion of being trapped in the middle of two equally strong loves and the happiness of being essentially exposed to one. It's a beautifully crafted scene, completely unadorned yet brimming with such delicate sadness.

I Love You, Goodbye should have been a good film and it pains me to note that it is not for the simple reason that it flaked in its ending. After meticulously mapping the exposure of a dreamy relationship for the veritable sham that it really is, it quickly abandons such directive and surrenders to the inevitable call of inane conventionalism. I Love You, Goodbye could have been the decade's anti-romance, the momentary cure (at least for the two hours that the audiences would invest on the film) to the Filipino's inherent infatuation for escape through the plasticine happiness of matinee idols and leading ladies entangled in choreographed kisses and embraces. It could have echoed the glossy melancholy of the ending of Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), where two lovers who are deeply in love, after being separated by war, unexpectedly meet-up, armed only with the painful memories of that love they used to share with each other that can never be regained. It could have had the same puncturing bittersweet resolution of James Gray's Two Lovers (2008), where a dreamer of a man wakes up and realizes his dreams of a perfect romance is unattainable, and settles.

But of course, I Love You, Goodbye is a different movie altogether and to expect something else out of it is admittedly an unfair proposition. Yet, the knowledge that the happy ending is merely a product of corporate concession and not of creative impulse, complicated by the fact that the originally intended ending, an ending that is more grounded in reality and logic, has already been shot but eventually shunned by the film's producers for being ambiguously sad, alarms because it pinpoints a national commercial cinema that is obviously taken hostage by formula and what seems to be misguided appreciation of what an audience can and cannot take.

As it turns out, reality, even in something as impertinent as the romantic relationship of fictional characters, is too much of a risk for movie producers with primary capitalist sensibilities. The more lucrative option is to perpetuate the grand cinematic lie; that everything ends happily and all problems and conflicts, no matter how undeniable unresolvable they are, can be magically resolved, and all characters can achieve a state of ecstatic satisfaction and completely forgetful of all the hatred and ill will that have been exchanged between and among them before. Perhaps it is my innate cynicism that drives me to abhor the ending that was imposed upon the film by its cowardly producers. Perhaps perfect endings are actual possibilities or even if they are not, we are in such need of them that we delight in being bombarded by them no matter how misplaced, dangerously false, and illogical they are. However, when a film has a perfect ending just for the sake of having one, betraying all notions of storytelling logic and emotional consistency, it is simply bad filmmaking that is not to be faulted to the director or her cast and crew, who in my opinion have crafted a fine film save for the insulting resolution, but to the profit-oriented movie studio that is being run by a team of unimaginative businesspeople who deplorably treat art not with passion or adoration but with outright bullyism and unfair compromise.


Anonymous said...


After watching this, I gave it some thought that maybe the ending would realistically happen but maybe in a long period of time. As what they say, "Time heals all wounds" and maybe Adrian would somehow find his way to forgive Lizelle for her misdeeds and at the same time, Lizelle will be able to lovingly accept Adrian (that he's the one this time) and adapt to the circumstances of her relationship with Adrian.

So maybe the movie was trying to showcase one of the qualities Filipinos are known to have - the capacity to forgive partners for their unfaithfulness. Just like how mothers would eventually forgive fathers for seeing other women. This time, the roles were just reversed and the situation in a different and more complicated setting.

What really offed me was the quick transition from the confrontation part to the happy ending. No resolutions whatsoever. They could've shown the aftermath of the revelations and how everything became okay. Though I agree that a sadder ending would be much more appropriate for this film. Just sharing :)

Oggs Cruz said...

Thanks anonymous, it just infidelity that's the problem of their relationship or the fact that Adrian was willing for it to be grounded on a huge lie, knowing that Lizelle still loves her ex and that he will keep the knowledge of the death of the ex throughout their marriage... The confrontation, in my opinion, was able to communicate the extent of that lie, but whatever the film was able to achieve was quickly thrown with that unfortunate ending...

Anonymous said...


Unang una, mas deserving manalo si Gabby over Bong as Best Actor. Pangalawa, di talaga ganun ka-impressive ang pagganap ni Kim Chui. Sa simula ng pelikula nung mag-English English na sina ANgel Aquino at Gabby Concepcion ay awkward nang delivery nila na parang minemorya lang. Sa unang eksena nina Angel A at Angel P, mas maganda si Angel Aquino na naka-itim at nakaputi naman si Panganiban.

Sa editing na maraming mali mali. Una na sa love scene nina Gabby at Angelica, hinawi ni Angelica ang buhok niya, so kita na yung ear niya diba, tapos next frame, takip ulit ang tenga niya, next frame ulit, tago na naman ang ear niya.

Ganun din ang nangyari sa scene nila ni Kim nung nag-breakfast si Kim at nagsabi na may bisita siyang dadating. Hinawi ni ANgelica ang hair niya, so kita na ang tenga, tapos next frame si Kim naman, next frame si Angelica ulit, na covered na naman ang tenga niya ng buhok na na hinawi niya a second ago!

Hawi buhok style of acting na yata ang uso ngayon. Si Bea Alonzo, ganun din sa And I Love You So.

Hawi naman my hair scenes of Angelica...
1. Love scene with Gabby
2. Scene of Kim and Angelica nung nagsabi si Kim na may bisita siyang dadating.
3. Scene of Matet and Angelica sa store nung binanggit ni Matet na bumalik na si Derek.
4. Yung confrontation nina Angel at Derek na sinabi niya na hindi na niya ito mahal, matagal na!
5. Nagtuloy pa iyon sa kotse, yung umiyak siya sa kotse, at bago siya sumandal, hinawi niya muna ang buhok niya para ipakita na maganda ang hikaw niya!
6. Confrontation of Gabby and Angel. Hawi na naman ng hair!

Alam ko Sharon is also guilty of this mannerism, pero di siya kasing dami ng paghawi ng hair ni Angelica sa I love You Goodbye. Therefore, Sharon deserves the Best Actress award more than Angelica.

Isa pang mali. Nung sabi ni Gabby na bumili siya nang bahay at dinala niya doon si Angelica, at i decorate daw niya. So next scene, ginagawa na bahay. Next dun na sila nakatira. AT ITO NA ANG PROBLEM, next scene aba sa condo na sila kasi kita mo sa taas sila ng building eh, eksena ito nina Liza Lorena at Angelica nung sinabi niya na Gabby will never marry her. Next scene, sa bahay na ulit sila nakatira. Sunod nun, scene with Gabby, Liza and Arlene, naman, sa condo na naman ulit, sabi ibabalik na daw ito kay Liza, eh samantalang minutes earlier ay ibinalik na ito! Kaloka!

Napakatanga ng character ni Angelica dito. Hinahayaan niya na gawin siyang basahan ng lahat ng characters sa movie. Pero ok lang yun, kung ganun siya talaga eh. May isang scene si Kim dito with Derek, na nanginginig ang kamay niya, tapos biglang taas ang camera para di na ito makita. Ok lang rin ito, pero hindi naman siya galit kay Derek para manginig siya, kabado lang siya siguro.

Nagtataka na tuloy ako sa mga critics, lalo na kay OGGS na bopol na critic, kung bakit sinabi na FINE FILM DAW ITO! Sus, may critic ba na bulag sa mga maling detalye ng isang pelikula? Bayaran ka ba ng Star Cinema? Lahat ng movies ng Star Cinema ay ina-halleluiah mo! Nga pala, wala na bang maisip na paraan ng pagkamatay ang mga writers ng Star Cinema? Namatay si John Estrada sa BFF dahil nasabangga siya ng kotse! Namatay si Luis Manzano sa In My Life dahil nabangga din siya, at naman, si Derek ganun din ang sanhi ng death niya! Kalukring na itech! haha! Aba, ginamit na ito sa Magnifico rin noon. Ang mga writers ba ng pelikula nila ay hindi nanonood ng movies ng Star?

Mahusay naman ang pagganap nila. Kaya lang di ko maintindihan kung bakit ang babaw ng iniiyakan ni ANgelica! 2 yrs na wala ang bf niya, cry to death pa rin siya? Sa ganda niyang yun wala bang nagkagusto sa kanya? Ginagawang bobo ng pelikulang ito ang mga Pinoy!

Napakabiased ng review mo. Magkano?

humdinger28 said...

Jessica Zafra said.. it should have been titled I loathe you, just die..
what can you expect from a Star Cinema or a GMA film?
they priorize profit than artistic merits...producers won't show realistic endings if it will compromise their business...
"In My Life" thrived because of too much hype, the big stars on it and the gay angle between the two main protagonists
the Vic Sotto movies usually ended blockbusters because its being promoted by everyday in his daily show Eat Bulaga
intelligent, thought provoking and important films are often ignored by moviegoers...

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous: Ang babaw mo!