Oct 07

I watched My Neighbor’s Wife (Rated P-13), a film written and directed by one of the most awarded writers (turned director) Jun Lana, a week ahead of Star Cinema’s No Other Woman. I can’t help but compare the two movies since both depict the same theme: infidelity in marriage. Both titles were not original. There were films produced before bearing the same titles.

My Neighbor’s Wife, at first glance may give an erotic connotation, but as I watched the movie, it was not the love scenes that really caught my attention, but the twist in the story. The writer and director happened to be winner of 11 Palanca Awards for Literature, and the youngest member of the Palanca Hall of Fame in 2006. With Jun Lana’s credentials as writer, it is but natural to expect more from his film, My Neighbor’s Wife.

The Story. Bullet and Jasmine are rich that they need not worry about money. The wife does not need to work but takes care of her husband and son Tommy. She has ample time going shopping with her equally rich, bored but unhappy friend played by Dimple Romana.

Aaron and Giselle belong to the working class, the opposite of Bullet and Jasmine. Aaron, a medical-school graduate but did not take the board exams, opted to venture into business. Unluckily, he was not successful and had to borrow money from his friend Bullet to finance his latest business venture. His wife Giselle, who works hard as a medical representative, longs to have jewelry and designer goods to keep up with Jasmine.

They live in one condominium but on different floors as Aaron and Giselle rented one of Bullet’s unit. Bullet and Jasmine fight because Bullet is a philandering husband while Aaron and Giselle argue about Giselle’s tendency to buy signature items which she cannot afford. Giselle as a wife has so many flaws but was good in bed so her husband was able to accept her shortcomings.

The friendship ended between the two couples when something happened between Giselle and Bullet (while intoxicated) and Jasmine found it out. The two couples’ relationship turned sour especially when Aaron fools around with a conservative Jasmine. Their tryst indeed after they were discovered by Bullet and Giselle.

The actors and actresses were superb in their performances as they were able to convey the hurts and pains in several scenes. Jun Lana, in his effort to make a different twist in the ending of the story, showed Giselle and Aaron patching up while Bullet and Jasmine separated.

The story was not as outstanding as Jun Lana’s other films (Sa Pusod ng Dagat 1998, Jose Rizal 1998, Muro-Ami 1999 and Soltera 1999). But compared to other so-so movies, it was worth my time. As I have observed viewers were not happy with the ending. The wife who started it all, was forgiven, while the other one (a victim of the husband’s philandering activities) ended up alone? My friend Emily said, “it is not fair”. But Jun Lana as a writer would like to have this message: a woman who atoned for her sins will be forgiven, while the good one who turned into a bad woman will be left alone.

Ruel Bayani’s No Other Woman, featuring Anne Curtis, Cristine Reyes and Derek Ramsay, was graded “A” by the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB). The story is just one of those stories of infidelity where the husband got attracted to another rich and beautiful woman. Though the film bears an ordinary plot, it was made different due to the director’s credible presentation of every scene.

The writers injected some funny lines which made the film amusing. But the real funny thing was the baby, who doesn’t look as good as his parents.

Bayani has mastered his technique and medium. The story was not dragging but very entertaining. The actors and actresses essayed their roles naturally. Since the script was a collaborative work, it was perfectly done. Even the choice of location was appropriate. The only real turnoff was the music which I found too loud, that it was no longer soothing but irritating.

My neighbor’s Wife and No Other Woman are not perfect films, but the two are worth watching, not only for the craftsmanship, but for the purpose of keeping the dying film industry alive. After all, every Filipino has the duty to patronize our own product, not the foreign ones.

A big salute to Star Cinema and GMA, for the two movies they produced, that in turn gave jobs to a number of movie workers.

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