Movie review: Jane Oineza, RK Bagatsing rise above 'Us Again'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Feb 27 2020 04:13 PM


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Med tech Marge and artist Mike used to be lovers. The end of their relationship was not good. Five years later, Mike flew back home from the US to apologize for his past misdeeds, but bitter Marge would not hear of it. However, when a major gaffe at work necessitated Marge to make a long drive to Laoag, she allowed Mike to tag along. Together for more than 12 hours on the road, will Mike finally be able to gain Marge's forgiveness?

The initial scenes of "Us Again" set at Marge's place of work -- a diagnostic laboratory -- was highly improbable from the get-go. Real-life med techs would never act as unprofessionally as those careless fools we saw in that unfortunate sequence of events, no matter how busy they get during their shifts. The whole contrived situation was manipulated unnaturally to be able to set up a long road trip for Marge and Mike. This opening scenario alone already warned me not to expect too much from the rest of the film. 

It was only during this road trip that we are given the details about their failed romance. It turns out that the beginning of how they became lovers was actually as bad as how their relationship ended. Every possible coincidence just had to be in the right place in order to make all the stars align for that moment that Marge met Mike, whom she considered to be the answer to her fervent request to the patron saint of Monasterio de Tarlac for her to get a boyfriend soon. Unfortunately, Mike came along with complicated issues to overcome. 

Marge was a medical student when she was with Mike, but it was incredible how much free time she seemed to have. Even on those weekends when her classmates needed to review, she can afford to take road trips to Zambales to attend an art festival. The whole thing about Marge being the third wheel between Mike and his then girlfriend Ana was also very unrealistic. Like, since when would a third party be invited to an intimate dinner meant to celebrate a "monthsary" of a couple, even if she was a close friend? 

The way they ended their relationship was also fraught with a terrible strain of incredulity. So when there was a drowning incident involving a friend and Marge was not able to revive her with rudimentary CPR. For some contorted logic, a few days later (not immediately mind you, he had time to think about it), Mike actually accused Marge of killing their friend and even called her a failure as a future doctor. Marge was clearly not responsible for making that girl drink herself silly and go swimming into the ocean to drown. That scene was unbearable because of its ultra-overdone melodrama. 

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Lead stars Jane Oineza (as Marge) and RK Bagatsing (as Mike) did well to perform their roles effectively despite all the limitations of the story. They were able to project their ill-fated romance well, given whatever reasonable or unreasonable situation the script made them do. The two actors were also credited at the end for their contributions to the script, which I guess really needed a lot of improvisation to spice things up. They were definitely the plusses of this production, even though their box office appeal has yet to be proven. 

Sarah Edwards played the impossibly magnanimous best friend and girlfriend Ana. Jin Macapagal played Paolo, the poor guy from Laoag to whom Marge had to personally apologize. He also got to channel Whoopi Goldberg's Oda Mae Brown in a couple of scenes. They could have cast a bigger girl in that last scene to play Paolo's daughter Lois to reflect the five years that has supposedly passed.

Just when you thought this plodding story had nowhere else to go, there suddenly came a twist out from left field. The big reveal was the major gamble of the writer Juvy Galamiton (who also wrote "Gandarrapiddo," "Ghost Bride" and "Indak") and director Joy A. Aquino (a cinematographer in her feature film debut) to give this sappy love story a preternatural closure, and hope that the viewers will watch it in awe for its cleverness, instead of derision for its incredulity. It is one of those "love it or hate it," "believe it or not" scenarios. 

For me, I would give that climactic plot twist credit for at least enlivening the final act, which up to that point had just been wallowing in endless, tiresome, repeating lines of bickering, regrets, and apologies. 

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