I’m still on my pinoy rom-com streak, and I told Eleesabeth Lee Balwani that he should watch Us Again starring Jane Oineza and RK Bagatsing. Eleesabeth ran out of gas midway, and I had to narrate the eventful second half. For those of you who are planning not to watch, here is a very short, spoilerful precis and sort-of review.
Budding artist Mike (RK) cheats on his girlfriend Anne with her bestfriend Marge (Jane), a med student. They try to justify this by saying that Anne is not supportive of Mike’s artistry. Anne goes on a trip, leaving the two cheaters alone to fuck. Fast forward to a few years later and we see Mike trying to apologize to Marge who is working as a medtech, having dropped out of med school. This is because in the interim Marge had a falling out with Mike for an as yet mysterious reason, and Mike had to go to the US (and use cannabis while he was there).
A mix-up in urine drug test in the lab results forces Marge to go on a road trip with Mike to talk to the guy involved in the mix-up, Paulo. Of course, during the trip, past mistakes and hurts are dredged up, and apologies are profusely given. We now hear of the reason for the couple’s break-up: Marge has apparently failed to do proper CPR on Mike’s friend who drowned, leading to their separation. To quote the hysterical Mike: “Med student ka, you can save her!” at which point we had to sheepishly giggle because in reality, unless you’re already a clinical clerk doing clinical rotations, you don’t really know how to save lives, or do anything for that matter, other than study. You study for many, many exams about muscle origins and insertions, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, and types of lochia, and forget about them later (unless you’re my blockmates Roxy and Lenny who are geniuses).
When they reach their destination Mike suddenly disappears, and we later learn that Jane has been roadtripping, having meals, and arguing with the spirit/ghost of Mike all this time. Apparently, after his visit to the laboratory at the start of the movie, Mike got into a car accident and went into a coma. He got into a car accident because he became dizzy all of a sudden. He became dizzy all of a sudden because he has… a brain tumor, hence the cannabis use in the US. Mike eventually dies. His spirit possesses Paulo, and he once again apologizes to Marge, who at this point is already infuriated with the droning I’m sorry’s. As a side story Paulo’s daughter Lois has a heart condition, and who should her doctor be 4 years later but… Marge. Marge has apparently been inspired to take up medicine again when, during the road trip with the ghostly Mike, she was able to render first aid to a car crash accident, after which Mike told her “good job, good job”. How magnanimous, for someone who assholedly crushed the spirit of a lowly med student by blaming a death on her. The end.
By now we are already familiar with the new elements in the formula of the modern pinoy romcom that directors are trying to tick: long conversations, a quirky main character, a colorful location. The checklist should formally include the following that have consistently popped up in the recent movies that I’ve seen: a) a slow sad song performed by an indie artist b) LOTS of montages of the lovebirds having fun while said song is being played, the camera very close to their faces, with a filter preferably Gingham and c) a scene with the main character eating pancit canton or cup noodles bearing the brand of the sponsor. Extra note: there’s a scene where Anne the rich kid is feasting on an elaborate plate of pasta, while across her Marge is eating cup noodles. Is this a commentary on the social divide, or a commentary on their gustatory preference?
If anything, this movie should teach us that if you have cancer pain that is severe enough to warrant cannabis use, it may not be advisable to drive around alone. And also, cheating on someone and then being given an expensive pasalubong later on must really feel horrific.