Bloated Love

There are plenty of sweet moments to be found in 'It Takes A Man and A Woman,' but there’s a lot of bloat to get through.

It Takes A Man and A Woman is the third movie in an unlikely trilogy of romantic stories, looking further into the relationship of Miggy Montenegro and Laida Magtalas. The three movies have taken on very different aspects of their romance. The first followed their cutesy courtship, while the second brought in a wave of seriousness as it showed the characters drifting apart, dealing with real challenges for the first time. This third movie seems to waver between the two tones as it explores the idea of betrayal and forgiveness, putting the characters through another courtship while placing them under the shadow of an unforgiveable act. It’s a tough balance that the film doesn’t quite accomplish. Still, the depth of these characters continues to surprise, even as it all reverts to spectacle.

When we last saw Miggy Montenegro and Laida Magtalas (John Lloyd Cruz and Sarah Geronimo), they had resolved to stay together in spite of Laida getting a job in Canada. A year into their long-distance relationship, the two suffer personal crises, and they crack under the pressure. Miggy ends up betraying Laida in a moment of weakness, and the two break up. Now, Laida returns to the Philippines on the behest of Miggy’s brother Art (Rowell Santiago). Art wants Laida to help Miggy land a licensing deal with a major US publisher. The two are forced to work together despite their tumultuous history.

There’s a lot of backstory to sift through, but the film does a fairly good job of getting it all out of the way. An effective sequence at the start moves through the important points and quickly sets up a dramatic situation. From there, however, the film crafts a sticky, contrived plot that basically forces the proximity of the two characters. It might have been more interesting to just have these two run into each other by accident, rather than have them jump through the sitcommish hoop of being forced to work together. In the end, the whole magazine plotline doesn’t really bear much narrative fruit, its convolutions only serving to stretch out the movie’s already bloated runtime.

There’s also the false conflict of Miggy having a girlfriend. The movie doesn’t really commit to the character, giving her no real defining traits beyond being played by the stunning Isabelle Daza. The film basically uses her as a visual target, playing up a cartoonish version of jealousy. It gets a bit tedious, especially as the film moves back into courtship territory, regressing the characters and undoing much of their growth. The film is most effective when it slows down enough to depict an honest moment between the two main characters. In these moments, the film quietly comes to life, the history between these characters coming into focus, blooming into drama deeper than most movies can provide.

These moments are effective because the two leads are so effective. Sarah Geronimo and John Lloyd Cruz are able to express such longing pain and regret in their quieter moments, filling in whatever gaps the narrative might have. The two exhibit so much talent and chemistry that the relationship remains entirely credible, despite the fact that the two never even kiss. The supporting cast features solid performances, particularly from the great Irma Adlawan. It just that some of these actors feel a little extraneous, playing parts that belong entirely to the bloat.

There are plenty of sweet moments to be found in It Takes A Man and A Woman, but there’s a lot of bloat to get through. The film might just be too stuck on the idea of what made the previous films successful, relying heavily on goofy humor and the romcom formula to tell the story. But these characters have grown up and changed, and are now wrestling with deeper issues. It might have done the film good to just take a more subdued approach, trusting in the talents of the two leads to provide the mainstream appeal. That said, the current approach still provides some charm. There’s just a sense that it could have been so much more.

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