A Second Chance begins with Popoy (John Lloyd Cruz) giving up an opportunity to go to Europe to marry the love of his life, Basha (Bea Alonzo). They start a firm together, and dream of building a house and starting a family. Nearly seven years into their marriage, things haven't quite worked out. Their first pregnancy ends in a miscarriage, and Popoy is struggling to keep the firm afloat. With all the stress adding up, things start breaking down between the two, and the vows that they made to each other are tested to their very limits.
Was there a need to revisit One More Chance? Probably not, but this movie does get to some interesting things because of its ancestry. All the cutesy romantic stuff has already been accomplished. The characters are older, as are the actors playing them. The film is then able to tell a story that just isn't told in the current mainstream environment. It isn't about two people falling in love. It's about two people already in love, having to decide if that's really enough. It gets into weightier matters, delving into the psychology of this couple, finding conflict in the silence between them.
It doesn't all work out. There are bits of this movie that come out pretty ludicrous. The myriad scenes that involve their friends feel like an obligation. Every callback to the previous movie feels a little awkward. The plot detail involving Popoy's obsession with Calamity Proof Structures brings up fine conflict, but is clumsily resolved. But overall, the movie is a fine study of how a marriage can fall apart, of how two people who clearly love each other can grow so far apart. The movie is really good at letting the cracks show, revealing the little offences that indicate larger issues. It isn’t always a matter of actively doing something terrible. In this film, the characters end up doing terrible things without even really knowing it.
And when it hits, it hits hard. These people aren't faced with endless possibilities anymore. They’ve invested years into this, and had to give up things to get to where they are. They’ve just got so much more to lose now, and so each decision is just heavier. Every sin is graver, and all the consequences are dire. This is no longer just about whether or not a couple should together. In its best moments, the film is asking questions of identity. These characters are struggling with who they are in this moment of crisis, unable to reconcile their vision of who they wanted to be with the person they see in the mirror.
The movie kind of loses steam as it hits its final stretch. Resolutions have always been a weakness of Star Cinema, and that failing is all the more obvious when a film is actually trying to tackle something of more substance. But the movie never stops being sweet and professionally done. The production gets a little shaky at times, particularly with the sound mix. But Cathy Garcia-Molina’s direction is always on point. And John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo manage to do a lot with these roles. The film really seems to benefit from everyone just getting older. Everyone’s just bringing more to the plate.
A Second Chance can’t really avoid the pitfalls of a mainstream romantic film. It still rushes to a resolution, and there are bits of it that just don’t work. It was probably rushed through production, and it certainly didn’t have the time it needed in post. But in spite of that, it’s hard not to feel anything while watching it. Somewhere within all that mess, the movie manages to put together these moments of devastating honesty. They break through the barrier of artificiality, and deliver bits of emotion that cannot be ignored. And that’s really something, even given the flaws.