My Househusband: Ikaw Na! reunites Jose Javier Reyes with Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo to tell yet another tale of the challenges of domestic life. Much like their previous efforts, the film is a richly detailed portrait of modern Filipino life, deriving as much cinematic pleasure from tossed off observations as from the big dramatic moments. It should be great, but poor production values keep it from garnering superlatives. My Househusband: Ikaw Na! is ultimately still somewhat good, but the lack of technical polish shouldn’t be overlooked.
Rod (Ryan Agoncillo) is a branch manager for a bank that’s going through a merger. He’s informed that his branch is being closed, and that he’s to be transferred to Isabela, into a position that calls for more work for the same amount of pay. He resigns in protest, but hides the truth from his wife Mia (Judy Ann Santos) while he looks for another job. The job search takes longer than he expects, and Mia eventually finds out. Soon, Mia takes a standing offer to work at an insurance firm, and Rod is left at home to deal with the household. The two tangle with the challenges of their new roles, putting a strain on their relationship.
The story is safely grounded in reality, the film fully fleshing out the details of the couple’s situation. Most films would have been satisfied with some sort of comedic misunderstanding pushing Rod to resign. This film takes the time to fully explain what exactly is going on, and it does so with the intention of creating a fully relatable experience. The concerns of the middle-aged professional are perfectly recreated within the film, Rod’s dilemma never seeming anything less than reasonable. Even the broadest characters feel grounded in reality, their quirks firmly based on a keen sense of observation.
This attention to realistic detail gives the film its spark. The story plays out pretty much as one might expect, but the verisimilitude makes every moment cut closer to the bone. The laughs have satirical weight, and the drama all feels emotionally justified. The production, however, fails to keep up the illusion. It feels like the film rushed through its production, making the film looked frayed around the edges. The sound goes in and out, the edit is a little rough, and in one scene, the shadow of a boom mike can be clearly seen. This is unacceptable in a major motion picture.
Thankfully, the movie has something else going for it: Judy Ann Santos. She is still one of the finest actresses to ever grace our screens, and she makes it a little easier to forgive the film’s technical flaws. Like the film, she largely goes for what’s real, and offers up natural, familiar reactions to everything that she’s given. Ryan Agoncillo steps up his game, as well. Of course, there’s a natural chemistry between the couple, and that helps drive the movie as well. Eugene Domingo goes far broader than the two leads, but she still manages to bring it home when it counts.
The production flaws of My Househusband: Ikaw Na! are terribly disappointing. Its script is filled with keenly observed moments, and the acting is more than strong enough to make those moments sing. But the shakiness of the production is just too difficult to ignore. This is the Metro Manila Film Festival, and though the festival isn’t exactly renowned for its quality, the films should all be held to some standard. Still, the pleasures of the movie are quite real, and in the end, the quiet, unassuming honesty of this film makes it win out.