By Jeffrey Hidalgo
I caught Changing Partners as a musical at the PETA Theater last year, an intimate experience I loved only to learn about its film adaptation via the Cinema One Originals Film Festival. I got both excited and iffy to see it on the big screen 'cause it did not seem like a material that could translate well in its current form. It would have to be overhauled to fit the film medium, I had thought.
Here's the film’s premise: The material is an anatomy of a breakup of a May-December affair between Alex and Cris, who in four combinations possible, switch genders and preferences to give us four permutations: cougar Alex and boytoy Cris; Daddy Alex and girlet Cris; lesbian lovers Alex and Cris; gay couple Alex and Cris. The older Alex's are being portrayed by Agot Isidro and Jojit Lorenzo, and the younger Cris's by Anna Luna and Sandino Martin.
Let's tally here what made the flick lovable and/or otherwise!
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Agot and Sandino’s steamy love scene—this is my first time to see Agot in this light and it was totally believable and extremely hot even without really bearing too much skin. It was very natural and a great sequence to put as one of the openers to establish the mood. +5
Agot lights up a cigarette and starts singing to remind us that this is actually a musical film. But what fascinated me more was the vocal mixing as if it was taken live on the set. "Wow, amazing!" (You’ll get my reference when you get to catch the film.) +3
Anna and Sandino’s vocals in the musical numbers will melt your heart. It’s actually even better when you hear it live in the theater, but their vocal performances have translated well on screen. Agot, too, but not as much as these two youngsters. What about the other? Let’s save it for later. +4
The additional dialogue and scenes plus the restructuring of the material by Lilit Reyes has successfully made the material a palpable film, and a musical at that. I am curious now, though, how much of the final output was really intentionally written as such or has been reedited to enhance the storytelling. +3
Marya Ignacio’s editing was on point, much deserving of the Best Editing award, with each transition set up by Dan Villegas laid out seamlessly. This film would not have worked without it. +5
The whole ensemble’s performance was just soooo good! Here’s where the older cast had the upperhand over the youngsters, earning them both the top honors Best Actor and Actress. Congratulations Agot and Jojit and to the whole cast for the Best Ensemble award. +4
This material being a musical, I would have loved it even more if everyone’s vocal prowess was stellar. And I’ll just stop right there. -3
Unlike the Alex’s where you could clearly see who was the lesbian or gay version of each, with the Cris’s, the characters were interchangeable. -2
After watching the play, listening to the soundtrack on Spotify, and watching it on the screen, I don’t really remember any of the tracks. I guess they’re just not pop enough? -4
Oh, and how can I forget? Mycko David’s lighting was spot on, creating the perfect atmosphere for the characters’ dramas to thrive in. +3
I guess I enjoyed this film much more than that high budgeted superhero flick Justice League. With Nervous Translation being the only narrative entry I have not seen in the roster, Changing Partners would have to be may favorite among the Cinema One Originals entries this year. I loved how different and the same it is from its original form written by Vincent De Jesus! Though, I recommend that everyone should catch it in both media. Hoping there’d be a stage rerun soon. For sure, that would be a runaway hit especially after the film also bagged the Audience Choice award!
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Photographs courtesy of Cinema One