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  Unofficially Yours Love means never having to say you're soppy
Year: 2012
Director: Cathy Garcia-Molina
Stars: John Lloyd Cruz, Angel Locsin, Edgar Mortiz, Tetchie Agbayani, Edgar Allan Guzman, Ian De Leon, K Brosas, Boom Labrusca, Melissa Mendez, Hyubs Azarcon, Mel Kimura
Genre: Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Heartbroken over another failed romance, nice guy dentist Mackie Galvez (John Lloyd Cruz) stays at a beach resort where he gets lucky with a sexy woman by the name of Princess Bricenio (Angel Locsin), or Ces for short. After a frenzied, fully satisfying one night stand, Mackie awakens the next morning to find Ces long gone. Hopelessly despondent, he decides a career change is in order, given he only took up dentistry to be near his last girlfriend. Mackie starts work as a writer at a lifestyle magazine where he discovers - surprise! - Ces is the top reporter. After the magazine’s chief editor appoints Ces as Mackie’s mentor, the pair pick up where they left off, with regular hook-ups after hours, no strings attached. But while romantically resistant Ces remains emotionally closed off, Mackie falls deeply in love and comes to want something more.

Currently the highest grossing homegrown hit in the Philippines, Unofficially Yours - or as the curious onscreen spelling would have it: ÜnOfficially Yours - bears a premise somewhat similar to such recent raunchy rom-coms as Friends with Benefits (2011) and No Strings Attached (2011), though with a noticeably softer centre in keeping with Tagalog cinema’s preference for old fashioned soppy romance over mere bawdy sex comedy. It is only the latest in a string of loved-up Filipino blockbusters directed by romance specialist Cathy Garcia-Molina, including the likes of A Very Special Love (2008), You Changed My Life (2009), My Amnesiac Girl (2010) and Miss You Like Crazy (2010), all of which star the affable John Lloyd Cruz, former member of Filipino boy band Coverboys. The titles alone betray the Hallmark greetings card-like sentiment featured therein (well, okay, maybe not My Amnesiac Girl) and Unofficially Yours continues very much in that vein, pairing Cruz with another huge Filipino star, the lovely Angel Locsin, best known as the most recent incarnation of the Philippines’ iconic bikini-clad superheroine, Darna (2002).

After a promising and lively start the film regrettably down-shifts, sliding into snail-paced, soppy soap opera slush, offset by mildly amusing comedy and, by Asian rom-com standards at least, some surprisingly bawdy sex scenes. Revealing a conservative streak that seems inevitable given the Philippines is a Catholic country, Juan Miguel Sevilla’s screenplay seemingly suggests no woman would ever pursue casual sex unless she were harbouring some deep-rooted neuroses. So it proves that Ces’ last boyfriend persuaded her to sacrifice a promising job in Singapore then dumped her after she was involved in a near-fatal car crash. Ouch. Since then she has stuck to her belief “there are many things a person can do with their life if they aren’t limited by love.” Nevertheless, hopeless romantic Mackie resolves to win her heart, whether whipping up a gourmet meal, offering gifts of flowers and chocolates, or strumming a heartfelt love ballad on acoustic guitar.

Although Cruz is an endearing, charismatic presence, the fact is watching Mackie spend most of the movie making goo-goo eyes at Ces or striving in vain for a post-coital cuddle, is kind of a strain. His devotion may enamour some female viewers but the more hard-hearted viewer will likely be secretly urging him to grow a pair. While Mackie’s friends raise the issue of his tendency to go overboard when it comes to love, nothing much comes of this subplot. Far too cutesy for its own good, there is too much time spent debating the complexities of love and not enough incident. Having said that, while the supporting cast pitch their performances towards broad farce, the leads are appealing with solid work from the dependable Cruz (who must be able to do this sort of thing in his sleep) and a winningly nuanced turn from Locsin.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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