Gari (Lovi Poe) was a stylish fashionista who worked as a pre-school teacher, with online sales businesses on the side. Sherwin (Joem Bascon) was a poor student training to be an auto mechanic, working as a waiter on the side. They first encountered each other in a private party where Gari was a guest and Sherwin was a waiter, and they shared the stage together for an impromptu song number.
Fast forward to one day when Gari's car stalled, and Sherwin just so happened to be right there to fix her battery problem. Fast forward again to one day when Gari was eating fishballs in a sari-sari store in Sherwin's neighborhood. Fast forward again to the day when Sherwin boldly proposed to be Gari's boyfriend with the help of their friends. Then fast forward again to the fateful wedding day when Gari became Mrs. Sherwin Gallardo.
With this initial sequence of episodic scenes, we can already feel that "The Annulment" was not going to be a movie of substance. The story of how two people of vastly different, totally contrasting social standing, educational attainment, bank accounts, English-speaking skills, fashion sense and physical appearance getting together to get married could already be a full-length movie in itself. Yet here, the director simply stitched these contrived scenes together and just expected us to accept that incredible fantasies like this could really happen just like that.
The director should have taken the effort to convince us that an ambitious rich girl like Gari can drop everything and accept the marriage proposal of someone like Sherwin who did not seem to have any future in his horizon. The strength of the foundation upon which their marriage was built was essential to create the tense dramatic situations which the title alone already told us was going to happen to them. In this case, their relationship was shallow and frivolous, there was not an iota of doubt that this marriage was doomed from Day 1.
While married, Gari was working on both her teaching job and her online stores to earn all the money to sustain their daily needs. Sherwin quit from his job at the car repair shop to find a better job but he could not because it turned out he never even graduated from his vocational school after all this time. So one night, this great husband got himself drunk at a party and allowed himself to be seduced into bed by a cheap-looking hussy named Samantha (Myrtle Sarrosa).
Now who has not seen these scenarios in a Filipino movie before? This was absolutely lazy writing as no effort was spent it seems in coming up with a more original conflict between the wife and husband. We already saw all of these problems happening ever since they stepped out of the church during their wedding. Everything was so ho-hum predictable, no surprises at all to spark interest.
Then we fast forward to familiar scenes of secret phone calls and mall meet-ups, again no imagination at all. All of this set up to that day where Sherwin and Sam were going at each other right in the Gallardo living room, and Gari walked in on them. This major confrontation scene is a staple in all Filipino about infidelity. Yet with all those multiple crisp-sounding face-slapping, this was the most entertaining scene in the whole film. Too bad the director had to ruin the fun by slipping in a miscarriage.
The whole meat of the film was supposed to be about the annulment proceedings. Yet the film also did not delve on the details of its taxing procedure. There was only one court scene, where the Gari's lawyer friend flaunted her English enunciation prowess. After that, there was again another easy way out where one party simply acquiesced to the demands of the other. You'd think there would be more weight and time given to the legal workings during an annulment case, but here we see yet another abbreviated process just like we have seen in other Filipino dramas about couples parting ways.
The beauty, class and talent of Lovi Poe was wasted in a cheesy, banal and inept film like this. She (and also Ana Abad Santos as Gari's mother) was the only positive aspect in this film.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."