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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mastery of the Middle Class as A Strong Selling Point -- MY HOUSEHUSBAND: IKAW NA Movie Review


In a film festival that looks like more of a movie carnival, having been able to watch a movie with sense packed with entertainment is a rare treasure found.  And this is what I experienced as I watched MY HOUSEHUSBAND: IKAW NA, OctoArts Films' official entry to the 2011 Metro Manila Film Fesrtival.

MY HOUSE HUSBAND: IKAW NA is what you call dramedy film which talks about a married couple Rod (Ryan Agoncillo) and Mia (Judy Ann Santos) who shifted roles when current economic reality hit their family. Rod becomes the care taker of the house and kids while Mia becomes the bread winner. Eugene Domingo plays the role of Aida, the couple's neighbor who developed a strong friendship with Rod which made Mia jealous at one point. Along the way, situations and challenges haunt the couple that test the strength of their relationship.

My verdict, MY HOUSEHUSBAND: IKAW NA's mastery of the middle class is its strongest selling point!  This is a Jose Javier Reyes trademark  that  we have seen in his past movies like May Minamahal, Kung Ako Na Lang Sana, Kasal Kasali Kasalo and Sakal Sakali Saklolo, among others.  Direk Joey was able to tell the story of Rod and Mia plus Aida in a realistic manner where many Filipinos can relate to.  The situations on company mergers (and how it affects the working class), demotions, resignations, house budget, household responsibilities, and the sensitivity of a working wife and a househusband were well narrated and displayed.  Many will shed tears and laugh at themselves as they see the movie.  MY HOUSEHUSBAND: IKAW NA is a reflection of a modern and real Filipino family and it tells us that in marriage, there's no man or woman role, they are partners, whatever the functions may be, in raising and upholding their family. 

'But although it's life like, the movie is injected with humor through witty dialogues, animated facial expressions and hilarious situations.  That's why watching MY HOUSEHUSBAND: IKAW NA made me look like a crazy man.  In one scene, I will burst in laughter and in the next, I will hold my breath to hold the emotion.  And MY HOUSEHUSBAND'S well mixed drama and comedy is its next selling point.

And of course, the excellent performances of Judy Ann Santos, Ryan Agoncillo and Eugene Domingo is another powerful  element of the movie.  Judy Ann Santos acted it real, no hysteria, no overacting.  She was able portray Mia well whether she throws hard hitting punchlines or be emotional in their family's ordeals.  My favorite is the scene where she confronted Ryan about the resignation and their argument over a job. Judy Ann's rage with tears is so real!  Ryan Agoncillo is a revelation here especially on how he made me feel the damaged soul of a breadwinner.  He is good in facial expressions!  One scene I wouldn't forget is how he asked money from Judy Ann.  And of course, Eugene Domingo is exemplary!  Just seeing her on screen makes everyone laugh and when she opens her mouth, no one can stop the laughter anymore.  Of course, her hospital scene is among her acting highlights.  That doesn't mean that Judy Ann and Ryan were left behind in the comedy department.  Their powerful comic punchlines and how they deliver it made them equally funny. If we have sensible and credible MMFF judges, their performances won't be left unrecognized, either through nomination or award.

Direk Joey Reyes and Mel Del Rosario did well in the characterizations of Mia, Rod, Aida, their families and respective neighbors.  Aida is not the usual bestfriend portrayed in movies.  This time, the bestfriend's character is significant, her relationship with and advises to the couple are well played off in the movie.  I also like how the friendship between Rod and Aida, and the eventual involvement of Mia, was dissected. 

As to my builds, let me share them one by one.  In MMFF, each movie faces a tough competition, many entries are grand, spectacular and high in special visual effects.  However, that is not MY HOUSEHUSBAND's genre but they need to do something to be noticed by the masses.  My suggestion is that Direk Joey and Mel Del Rosario should have injected something that is thematic to the season, in short something that touches Pinoys' Christmas celebration.  Since the couple demonstrated their financial ordeals, having something that makes Christmas as backdrop will be better.  For example, Rod not being able to give the usual gifts to his children can be one. 

I absolutely liked Ryan's performance but I somehow expected a few acting highlights.  He should have had a scene or scenes where he was able to cry in despair.  The scene where he asked money from Mia in her office is really touchy, and there, I could relate how he stepped down and how he allowed his soul to be broken.  Perhaps a scene afterwards, even if he's alone or perhaps talking to Mia in the bedroom, where he shed tears or cry in despair for the lost of morale could have really been a winning scene.  In the absence of such scene, a dialogue with Eugene Domingo somehow was able to compensate that.  I remembered Eugene Domingo saying, "Hindi mo alam, nangingilid luha si Rod pag nakikita kang pagod na pagod galing trabaho at wala siyang magawa."

And then I don't know if the children reflect how the kids behave today but I am somehow disturbed how they talk to their parents.  Mia and Rod could have shown something on giving discipline to the children.  In a scene where the children rudely demanded for food is something that made me think.  A father should not let their children do this to them, even if they don't have a job.  And in that scene, Ryan should have asked their help in the kitchen.  The film was able to tell us how husband and wife work as partners but perhaps, they could have involved the children as well so that the kids would understand the situation and not act as irritating spoiled brats. 

There are some minor technicalities as well like in the scene where Rod stayed in the house for the first time, the movie showed him cleaning the table and dishes from the living room to the dining room but he was just taking off from a breakfast.  Well, that's acceptable if they let leftover food stay overnight on the dining room.  If not, the montage scene could have let Rod wear different wardrobe to show that the clean-up happened not just in one day.

Lastly, a good love theme music could have been of help as well in driving the emotion in the movie.

Above all, I consider MY HOUSEHUSBAND: IKAW NA a good watch this Christmas season and among the better entries this Metro Manila Film Festival 2011.  'But knowing how MMFF decides and recognizes films, I won't expect anything (Remember what they did to Rosario? http://digitista.blogspot.com/2010/12/when-will-we-be-ready-to-accept-rosario.html).  Anyway, it's enough to know that we as intelligent viewers are well equipped to determine which is a good film or not.

From a scale of 1 to 10 claps, I am giving the movie a strong 8!  From OctoArts Films, MY HOUSEHUSBAND: IKAW NA is showing in theaters starting December 25!

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