Mr. and Mrs. Cruz has finally opened in theaters. Not to be confused with Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes having so similar titles and opening consecutively, Sig Bernardo's follow up to her phenomenal 2017 hit Kita Kita offers something totally different. From the trailer, one can already sense that it has the quirky director’s signature style written all over it. Having seen two of her earlier works including Ang Huling Chacha ni Anita, I have to say she's one of the more trusty directors of this generation when it comes to compelling filmmaking and a solid sense of storytelling. That said, I obviously liked the film.
Mr. and Mrs. Cruz makes a smart play on the names and the fates of its characters, making use of their similarities and the dichotomy of their differences and life occurences. Case in point: how Mr. Cruz (JC Santos) wants to remember his pain, how Mrs. Cruz (Ryza Cenon) wants to forget about hers, and how each other’s experiences affect their way of moving forward from their emotional baggage. In essence, they are two people of the same surname attempting find themselves in the picturesque beaches of El Nido, Palawan. That much I'll say without getting into the specifics. +4
The wedding dress imagery as seen in the trailer is used more than once and is hauntingly effectual. I also loved how 'Minekaniko ni Moniko ang minica ni Monika’ translates to being like MacGyver. Whoever translated this should get a raise. +3
It is only in this film that a joke about pooping becomes the sweetest and most comical thing. Watch out for that. It involves a senior couple played by Dido De La Paz and Lui Manansala. +2
There's also a scene where Mrs. Cruz has a wardrobe malfunction involving her bikini top and must make use of a life hack that Mr. Cruz learned from the internet. You'll get to see him undress with matching butt exposure. 'Nuff said. +3
Another interesting device Mr. and Mrs. Cruz is Sig's use of three different couples that feed off each others’ energies. There’s the senior couple who endured all the ups and downs of marriage, as wel as an unlikely pairing of a modelesque caucasian woman and a short Visayan man who boasts of being well-endowed. Their antics and interactions add more depth to the film’s introspective view on relationships. +2
In addition, there's a dream sequence where the leads relate different swimming strokes with their life’s journeys—something reminiscent of Kita Kita’s countdown involving how many drops of urine Alessandra’s character couldn’t contain. Now this is definitely a Sig setup that we'll likely see again in her future films. +2
Dialogues in the film are well thought out and punchlines are aplenty, though at times, almost to a fault. Some conversations sound too philosophical when comparing them to how people normally talk. But knowing how millenials these days are so in love with quotable quotes, they're bound to be a hit anyway. +1
Of course, the two leads are absolutely engaging with just their banter. Ryza Cenon in her second starring role after Manananggal sa Unit 23B, shows us her lighter side by delivering a few comedic punchlines. But more notable is JC Santos who, thanks to his theatre background, is able to steer each scene despite their lengthily written dialogue. In the hands of a less skilled actor, these scenes would have plateaued. A highlight for both JC and Ryza would have to be the scene where they portray convincingly inebriated individuals overcome by a lethal mix of alcohol and emotions. +5
Well, look what we got, a total of 22. A double-double which is just perfect for the film’s premise and mood. Although anyone watching can nitpick and look for issues in this film, it is undeniable that Sig Bernardo is a master of conveying the exact emotions that she wants you to feel per scene. She effectively and ingeniously sows her plot points to offer powerful takeaways in the end, leaving a mark in your soul after what you’ve experienced in the cinema. Your perception of her message is an entirely different story which will ultimatley depend on personal tastes and sensibilities. A line that really struck a nerve was from Mr. Cruz. "I wanna experience all the pain all over again, until it doesn’t hurt anymore, until I get numb," he says. Ouch. May we learn that everyone deserves a fresh start. Oh, and that everyone deserves to find Nemo.
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Banner Image from Instagram.com/j.c.santos