Everything About Her tells the story of Vivian Rabaya (Vilma Santos), the self-made CEO of Optima Land, one of the biggest real estate companies around. She is at the height of her success, but bad news changes everything for her. She is diagnosed with cancer, and she is forced to reevaluate her priorities. Jaica (Angel Locsin), a hardworking nurse, is hired to be her private caregiver while she undergoes treatment. Jaica struggles to put up with Vivian's dragonlike ways, but ends up becoming a big part of the businesswoman's life as she becomes the unlikely bridge to Vivian's estranged son Albert (Xian Lim).
The movie tries to do many things. It builds itself around the relationships that exist between the three main characters. So this is a story of a mother reuniting with her son. This is also the story of a businesswoman reassessing her success in the face of cancer. This is the story of a nurse who must learn to cope with her abusive patient, all the while dealing with her own personal abandonment issues. And somewhere in all that, the movie also tries to build a hint of romance between Jaica and Albert, because of course it does. This is just how it works. It's a lot to juggle, and though there is clearly skill in piecing all this together, it ends up being too much.
The film is much better at conflict than resolutions. For a while, the movie is wholly watchable based mostly on the scenes that establish the various issues surrounding the characters. The film's great insight is in how these characters try to avoid confronting the things that have hurt them. The disease has brought them together, but it isn't enough to make them say all the things that need to be said. The awkwardness between Vivian and her son is well observed, the things unsaid between them ultimately more affecting than the big dramatic confessions that inevitably follow.
This is where the film becomes harder to swallow. It takes a lot of time to get to its conclusion, but it still feels like it's rushing to get all these issues resolved. Vivian has to become a fundamentally different person, which feels like a cheat. The film, which spends so much time establishing the character's ways, ends up pretty much reversing all that for the sake of a tidy conclusion. It feels a bit like a betrayal of themes, especially since it implies that she's been wrong all these years. There is a line between the character learning a lesson and the character just becoming somebody else. The movie takes the latter path, and it comes dangerously close to shaming a woman for being dedicated to her career.
It's clearly meant to be a little more nuanced than that, but because the movie is keeping so many things in the air, it doesn't quite come out that way. It ends up shunting its most complex ideas to the side as it pursues a resolution that isn't as sad as the elements of the movie might suggest. It brings romance to the fore, and seems to forget that this was a movie about a woman in power being brought down by a cruel twist of fate. The multitude of plot threads also makes the movie tough to string together, the edit plagued with odd transitions between scenes that don't match up. The acting is all right, particularly in the sad scenes. Vilma Santos and Angel Locsin hold up their end of the bargain. The movie needed Xian Lim to be better than he was, but the script gets the point across.
Maybe Everything About Her should have been just tackled some things about her. Because there's just a little too much to handle here. In its pursuit of its multiple stories, it turns these characters' conflicts into binary choices. And these ideas deserve more time and care than the movie has for them. There are great scenes in here, buoyed with skilled technique and strong acting. But when all put together, it just doesn't feel like the film knows what it actually wants to say.