Movie review: Glossy tear-jerker 'More Than Blue' is classic Viva

Fred Hawson

Posted at Nov 20 2021 09:01 AM

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Orphans Charles Keith or "K" (JC Santos) and Sue Anne or "Cream" (Yassi Pressman) had been living together in a platonic arrangement since high school, and eventually became songwriting partners for pop singers. To try to get K to propose to her, Cream began to go out with a dentist John Luis (Diego Loyzaga). To assure himself that Cream had a good man who can take care of her when he is not in her life anymore, K even asked John's girlfriend Cathy (Ariella Arida) to help him get the two together. 

The story of this romantic drama was based on a 2009 Korean film with the same title which was a big box-office hit despite its low budget. It had already been remade in Taiwan in 2018, which also became a big box-office hit there and earning a more than $120 million worldwide. There is even a 10-episode 2021 Taiwanese series based on the same story on Netflix now. I had not been able to watch these other versions yet, so I would not be able to compare the directorial vision and acting quality in each. 

After week after week of raunchy comedies or sexually-explicit fare, this was a very refreshing change in the programming of Vivamax to have an old-fashioned tear-jerking romantic drama like this. This had the glossy look classic Viva movies had been known for when they started in the film production business in the 1980s. If not for the odd inclusion of a gratuitous buttocks exposure scene by one character, this was something that millennials can comfortably watch together with their boomer parents. 

Before this film, I only knew Yassi Pressman as Cardo Dalisay's long-suffering wife Alyanna. Watching her in action here as the typical manic pixie girl Cream was quite a departure and made me appreciate her range as an actress. Like how this trope character usually works, Pressman definitely had the required beauty and energy to snap K out of his severe doldrums. When the arc of her story turned more serious, she readily switched to waterworks mode so well, pulling us all along with her pain and her tears. 

JC Santos is already very familiar with sad characters like K from all the indie films he had done before this. It was a bit of a stretch to accept him as a high school student at first, but when it came to heavy drama, this actor can surely deliver. After all the sexy roles Diego Loyzaga had this year, it was very good to see him give a solid performance in a straight dramatic role. As photographer Cindy, Ariella Arida can now wash her palate clean from how badly she was treated in her film debut a few weeks back.

Director Nuel Crisostomo Naval did very well with his camera angles here, with so many imaginative uses of mirrored images to make the scenes look elegant. The locations he chose all looked beautiful on the screen, especially the wedding studio and its spiral staircase encased by a tower with clear glass walls, the stylish photography studio of Cindy, and the dramatically-lit Jones bridge with its ornate lamp posts. Even with the inherent melodrama in the story, the high production value gave this film a lot of class. 

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