Unofficially Yours echoes the sentiments of a legion of lonely young men, playing up a story where “niceness” is meant to break down the defenses of a comely young woman resistant to ideas of love and romance. It’s sweet enough, but it turns out that male version of fantasy fulfillment is as simplistic and problematic as the more familiar female version. The film treads some interesting ground, but in the end, a need for drama pulls the film into contrivance, and turns what starts out as a sweet love as a somewhat unsettling tale of obsession.
Mackie (John Lloyd Cruz) has a one night stand with a woman who disappears in the morning. That woman, however, turns out to be Ces (Angel Locsin), one of his new coworkers at his new job at the Manila Bulletin. Mackie is smitten with Ces, but she seems unwilling to invest in a relationship. She's only willing to take part in the occasional casual hookup. But Mackie continues to pursue her, hoping to break through her defenses with a relentless assault of niceness. But Ces is harboring major pain, and would rather run away than risk getting hurt again.
Most of Star Cinema's output is about fantasy fulfillment, usually featuring heroines that use their simplicity and kindness to reform emotionally unavailable men. Unofficially Yours pretty much tells that same story, but it reverses the gender roles. Here we have a nice guy who tries to win over a damaged girl with little more than the spring in his step and the sing in his heart. And like most Star Cinema films, the movie is charming enough for the first two acts, before laying on a lot of false and contrived conflict in the end.
The film often walks a delicate line between cute and creepy. The problem is that the film is totally behind its protagonist, presenting him as the perfect version of how a man should love. But in the third act, the holes in this argument start to become clear. The idea of Mackie is romantic, but the reality of it would be a little more unsettling. He is obsessive and dangerously persistent, his supposed niceness becoming suffocating and weirdly violent. The film makes the mistake of giving voice to the obsession, attempting to justify an action that clearly oversteps the bounds of civilized behavior. And what eventually wins over Ces rings terribly false.
But for the first couple of acts, the film is mostly charming. Much of the credit goes to the two leads, who share great chemistry. John Lloyd Cruz carries the movie with puppy dog eyes and a relaxed performance that gives the character a shade of realism. Angel Locsin looks quite comfortable in her role as well, making the character's vulnerabilities visible through the artifice of toughness. The supporting cast doesn't get to do a whole lot. They're mostly there to serve as expository soundboard and comedic relief. Still, it's always good to see Edgar Mortiz.
Unofficially Yours is sweet enough, but it ends up ringing false. The characters lose sympathy once the movie enters its melodramatic third act, and whatever charm the film still had dissipates as it contrives the elements of romcom formula. For a while, though, it was a pleasure to witness the easy chemistry between the two leads, the simple progression of their affections. It's hard to imagine that becoming a film on its own, but the path the movie takes doesn't quite fit either. The film remains a pleasant enough diversion, one that's buoyed by a charming earnestness. But its themes remain suspect, its idea of niceness a little too simplistic to really work.