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USD $1 ₱ 58.59 0.0000 June 14, 2024
June 15, 2024
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‘Mr. and Mrs. Cruz’ is a Quirky Love Story Grounded by Two Stellar Performances

'Mr. and Mrs. Cruz' is definitely offbeat and unconventional, but it’s a film that’s confident in its own skin and that’s not a bad thing at all for a film to be.

There is now a growing trend of movies that takes cues from films like ‘Before Sunrise’ and ‘That Thing Called Tadhana’ that rests its whole narrative structure on conversations by its two lead characters. ‘Mr. and Mrs. Cruz’ by writer and director Sigrid Andrea Bernardo is just that sort of film. Quirky and almost fairytale-like in its concept, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Cruz’ relies on the charms of its protagonists and their ability to keep you interested as they get to know each other and, by doing so, figure out their own messy lives.

In that sense, the casting of Ryza Cenon and JC Santos is an expert move by Bernardo, as the two are naturally very good. JC Santos’ theater experience comes very handy in infusing casual dialogue with meaning, while Ryza Cenon exudes charm and likability. Oftentimes, when the dialogue doesn’t get in the way, the two almost seem like they aren’t acting.

The film is the story of Raffy Cruz and Angela Cruz, who are both taking a trip to Palawan on a solo adventure and some soul-searching. Mistaken as a newly-wed couple, the two end up becoming friends as they take in the sights of the province from Puerto Princessa to El Nido, talking about everything from books to love and, later on, to why they are taking this trip.

It’s fairytale-like, in its concept, in its very sparing use of magic realism. It is a film that is not just rooted in the conversations but in coincidences. Everything from the location, to the personal stories, and even to the people around them are somehow deeply connected to Raffy and Gela’s story and this is intentional. It was even pointed out to me that the film embraces its own genre and the fact that it is a film to a surprising degree. It revels in its being cinematic and from there, it finds its charm.

There’s a lot that’s good in ‘Mr. and Mrs. Cruz,’ most notably its performances by Cenon and Santos. The two are completely unafraid to get silly or vulnerable and they portray their characters with a much-needed naturalness that they make their roles seem believable.

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And while there is a healthy display of scenic locations, the film sets up its structure that Palawan and all that they show of its gorgeous beaches are integral to the narrative. It’s not a beautiful location for the sake of having a beautiful location, there is a clever use of the setting to enhance each scene and help push meaning out to the audience.

What I find strongest in Bernardo’s direction is her use of the character’s proximity to tell their story. The blocking of their characters in the frame and their distance from each other at the start all the way until the end is important to tell us where they are as they reveal more and more of themselves to each other.

But the film meanders, and since the whole story moves only because of the dialogue, the film feels longer than it is. It sometimes expends too much energy on setting the scene that it loses out on some punches. It’s a little over-written, where some scenes can end earlier and could use some tightening up so that it moves confidently, rather than dawdling through its plot points.

I came out not sure how I felt about ‘Mr. and Mrs. Cruz,’ but I was definitely charmed and very willing to talk about it and after I did, did I realise that I did enjoy the film. It is definitely offbeat and unconventional, but it’s a film that’s confident in its own skin, and that’s not a bad thing at all for a film to be.

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Movie Info

Mr. & Mrs. Cruz
Drama, Romance
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4.4/5
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Critic's Rating
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