MMFF review: 'All of You' is good but generic

Fred Hawson

Posted at Dec 29 2017 01:00 PM

I am not really a fan of romance drama films, but I watched this one because it featured the return partnership of Jennylyn Mercado and Derek Ramsay together with director Dan Villegas, who lit up the MMFF screens and won major awards last 2014 in "English Only Please." 

I wanted to see how director Villegas will take the proven on-screen chemistry between his two stars and bring it to the next level.

In 2012, a squabble about forgetting their parking space led to the breakup of engaged couple Gino and Gabby. Two years later, while on a business trip in Jiufen in Taiwan, Gabby hooked up with 33-year old businessman Gab via a dating app. Their attraction was instant and their chemistry electric from that first meeting. When they get back to Manila, the two continued to see each other, later deciding to live together. Then, the trouble began.

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Mercado was charming and subtle as Gabby was slowly trying to impose her ways on Gab (the smoking spot, the yellow shoes, the cheesy songs). We know where her character is coming from and we see the film from her point of view. I do not know how female viewers will react to Gab's seeming disregard for her own rules -- about sex on the first date, about smoking, about marriage. I did not like the way her character went.

Ramsay will always be playing the confident ladies' man in all his films. With his natural macho swagger, I don't think he could play it otherwise. He was impressive with restraint and nuance in his dramatic scenes, in scenes when his business and his romance were breaking down. I am not surprised that he was named Best Actor at the awards night yesterday, but that said, this character was well within his comfort zone.

With all the relationship films inundating our local movies, filmmakers are trying new gimmicks to stand out from the field. "Kita Kita" had a new interesting lead actor combination. "100 Tula Para Kay Stella" had its nerdy poetry. "12" had a personal screenplay written by the lead actress. "Changing Partners" was a musical and had innovative characterization twists.

In this aspect, the screenplay of "All of You" oddly had nothing new to offer. They meet, they live together, they fight, they break up. The award for Best Screenplay it won last night was really a puzzling development. Its only selling point was that it stuck with the old formula, the tried and true and predictable -- and that is what makes it disappointing. 

There is no denying the clean cinematography and editing in this technically polished film. However, unlike the fresh and winsome screenplay of "English Only Please," the story and script of "All of You" was as stale and forgettable as its generic nondescript title. Fortunately, the performances of Mercado and Ramsey as Gabby and Gab, plus their romantic chemistry together, were able to elevate the unimaginative and mediocre script that they were saddled with. 5/10

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."