Movie Review for Miss You Like Crazy

Delaying the Inevitable

Miss You Like Crazy

Drama, Romance | PG | 2 hrs 05 min
Star Cinema
WARNING: This review contains spoilers.

Not that it matters, really. I suppose we could all pretend that we don’t know how Miss You Like Crazy turns out, but we’d only be lying to ourselves. The mainstream tolerates precious little variance, and even though Star Cinema and its parent company appear to employ some of the best young writers working in the country today, any sort of innovation tends to be worn away by the system by the time a script makes it to film.

Not that Miss You Like Crazy is completely devoid of variance. It has somewhat of an interesting structure, the story playing out in two distinct parts, playing essentially the same situation in two different beats. In the story, Allan (John Lloyd Cruz) is a young man who’s starting to feel the strain of his relationship with the high-maintenance Daphne (Maricar Reyes), who also happens to be his boss’ daughter. That’s when he meets Mia (Bea Alonzo), a free-spirited young girl whose apparent giddiness covers for her strained family life. Allan and Mia seem to be happiest when they’re with each other, but Allan’s situation keeps them from being together.

Mia then returns to Malaysia, where she works at a hotel. The movie then flips things around, Allan going to Malaysia for a management summit, hoping to run into Mia. And he does, but Mia is already is a relationship with a Malaysia guy, and is still harboring the pain of having not been chosen by Allan years ago. The shift is interesting, but the film doesn’t really pull it off that well. It comes abruptly, the movie simply ignoring the practical questions involved in such a radical change of setting. It tries to explain things away in a couple of bits of expository dialogue, but that’s simply robbing the audience of the dramatic possibilities involved in the choices that were made.

But the real problem in the film is that it has a pathological need to give everything away. In the clunkiest scene of the entire film, an old man that Mia knows tells the couple that they are meant to be with each other. That may seem like a harmless, throwaway fact on paper, but there are some wrinkles to this platitude. First of all, the man isn’t an ordinary old man. He’s clairvoyant, and characters will attest to the fact that he’s never wrong. Second, he phrases this in the form of a very specific prediction. On the 24 of February, 2010, Allan will have to wait for Mia to return. It will be difficult, and he will have his doubts, but he should keep the faith, because Mia will return.

It is in that moment that the film gives up all pretense of building suspense. The movie simply gives away its ending. That prediction informs every other scene in the film. When the characters get all emotional and struggle with their feelings and mull over the big questions life and love, none of it actually matters. Though the film actually builds a half-decent narrative about the difficult choices one can be forced to make in the face of love’s cruel timing, there isn’t any real tension to the story. The two are meant to be together, and they’re going to be together in the end. Whatever pain they’re going through in the story is laughable in the face of destiny and the contrivances of romantic filmmaking.

Other than that, Miss You Like Crazy is just your typical Filipino romantic film, a genre that Cathy Garcia-Molina seems to have mastered. Some of her shot choices are questionable, but no one can deny that she hits her big moments well enough. I feel that I must once again question shooting part of the film in a foreign land. Mia could just have easily moved to Davao and run into the same plot points. Of course, shooting in another country adds prestige to a production, but it also adds cost; money that ends up in another nation’s coffers. It isn’t something that will ultimately affect the quality of the movie, but it’s a question that ought to be asked all the same.

As always, there’s an easy chemistry between the movie’s two lead stars. But more than that, John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo have grown to become pretty good actors in their own right. Cruz holds everything in, letting the emotion slowly rise to his face. His best scenes don’t involve romance at all, him simply sitting alone, defeated expression on his face, wondering how it all went wrong. Alonzo can’t quite handle the manic pixie dream girl conceit of her character’s first half, coming off as more than a little bit crazy. But she pulls off the growth that she eventually encounters. In general, the tears still come a little too easily for the stars, but they are earning those tears more than ever.

To achieve its happy ending, Miss You Like Crazy is allowed one more paradigm shift. Mia’s Malaysian boyfriend suddenly realizes that Mia will never stop loving Allan, and he surprises her at the airport (where they’re ostensibly going on a trip to Paris) by handing her a ticket to Manila. We of course, see none of the struggle of their relationship, and Mia isn’t really given the chance to mull over the consequences of leaving behind her boyfriend’s child, who’s become very attached to her. A fuzzy timeline confuses things even further, but I guess none of this really matters. The fact is, the stars have aligned, and the gods of romances and cinema have dictated that Mia must fly back to Manila. Despite all the arguments against their being together still holding true, all reason must be ejected for the sake of the one moment where Mia reaches across a bench where Allan is sitting, such that their fingers can touch, and cinema can do its well-worn magic act. It was all preordained, after all. Everything else in the film, all that talk of loving other people or being harmful to each other, that was just delaying the inevitable. Miss You Like Crazy is more than competently made, and even manages some cleverness along the way, but it never really intended for anything to matter.

My Rating:

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