The Unmarried Wife tells the story of married couple Anne and Geoff (Angelica Panganiban and Dingdong Dantes). A few years into their marriage, Geoff cheats on Anne. Anne decides to stay with him in spite of the betrayal, but finds herself unable to forgive him or let him get close again. The rift between the couple grows further when Geoff cheats on her again, and soon Anne is struggling with the need and the expectation for her as a woman to fight for her marriage. Things get more complicated when Bryan (Paulo Avelino) enters the picture, presenting the possibility of another love in Ann's life.
If you boil it down, the film is basically the basic inequality in the way men and women are treated in the case of an affair. There are actually points in this film where this idea is broken down and discussed from various perspectives. The message is clear enough: more is expected of women, even when they're the ones being hurt. And that's great, but the film surrounds these cogent points with a story that betrays the sobriety of its themes. It goes broad in a way that wears down the reality of these relationships, putting its main character through a wringer that starts to almost glorify the suffering.
This film has a surplus of plot. The film loses touch with its emotional core as it gets mired in incident. There comes a point where it feels like the story wasn’t really meant to be a feature film. By the end, it feels like there are so many character and so many different concerns that the movie just forgets about some of them. There is a pregnancy in this film that doesn’t seem to matter at all by the third act. It should matter, since it informs the decisions that these characters make, and colors what kind of people they are given the situation. The way the film seems to just omit this detail make these characters out to be more callous and uncaring than they really ought to be.
It just keeps going, introduce new wrinkles into the dramatic saga of the main character. And some of it is interesting, but the pieces just don’t all fit. It is strange that the third act drama involves the insertion of a character we’ve basically just met, her behavior pretty much explained away as the actions of a crazy person. But it’s all just part of the same structural flaws: perhaps there is much more nuance to this character, and we just don’t get to see it because there’s so much other stuff going on.
The movie looks good enough for a big local studio production. The editing gets a little choppy at times, especially as the film shifts between timeframes. Angelica Panganiban is very good, the actress just taking in all of the disparate dramatic threads and grounding them in a performance that resists going overboard. Dingdong Dantes and Paulo Avelino aren’t quite able to overcome the bipolar nature of their characters. The actors play both extremes well enough, but the connective tissue doesn’t seem to be there.
The Unmarried Wife is an emotionally complex film that gets too caught up in the plot. It tries to keep its characters busy dealing with so much incident that there isn’t time for introspection. The film basically has to say its point out loud at one point, the plot getting so convoluted and strange that there is just room for nuance anymore. And that’s a shame, because this film has some really valid points about society at large. It is just that the overly dramatic form doesn’t fit the function.