Review by Vives Anunciacion
Inquirer Libre September 23 2009
In My Life
Directed by Olivia Lamasan
Maybe I don’t get it. Hindi ko gets. Did I miss anything in the seemingly endless cryfestival? So what’s the movie about, really? Acting? Missed connections? Some points fail to connect to me. Please try your call later.
Separated from her husband, elementary school librarian Shirley Templo (a joke of a name even if it was her parents’ way of remembering their favorite Hollywood icon) decides to leave for New York when her eldest daughter insists they sell off their property and move Down Under.
Shirley moves into her son Mark’s apartment where Noel, Mark’s boyfriend also lives. There is fuss about adjusting to life and new jobs in New York, but there is more fuss when Noel ends up taking care of Shirley more than Mark does. Shirley always has difficulty in accepting and adjusting to new things (like the faulty computerized library database), especially if she thinks she can do better. Especially if it threatens to take away her “motherhood” from her children, even if her children are all busy, grown up adults.
Everything separating Shirley and Noel comes crashing between them when tragedy strikes, but towads the end the two make gargantuan efforts to resolve their complex emotions.
From the onset, I was surprised to see Big Acting in the movie. Not “acting” but “Acting,” with a capital A. This coming from the director who tamed Sharon Cuneta in Madrasta and made her a real actress. I thought I was watching a Danny Zialcita movie (Langis at Tubig, Ang Kabiyak, Lalakwe and Dear Heart all rolled into one). It’s not necessarily bad, but I thought the movie screamed for acting awards. No subtlety there. Grand Slam, here we come.
Some people complained that there was too much “tourist” New York scenes. I say there were too few. New York – Manhattan – didn’t have a character in this movie. Maybe that was a creative decision from the writers, but Big Apple could have been Beijing. Which could have made the homosexual non-plot a political statement. Again, no statement there.
Which finally comes to the movie’s real point: the Acting. There is truth in every word the actors say. That’s why the audiences cry. There’s real emotion delivered painfully, each time Noel, devastatingly portrayed by John Lloyd Cruz, and Shirley, impeccably lived in by Ms Vilma Santos, make arguement. They could be talking about losing their favorite toy and you feel it – because that’s what’s on screen – truth in acting.
Interestingly, Santos’s Shirley isn’t the same kind of mother here as her Josie in the quintessential parenthood movie Anak.
But what is the movie really about? Human relations? That pretty much covers nearly all movies.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe In My Life is a masterpiece that I have yet to recognize. Maybe it’s not the Big Sermon About Parenthood movie that I see it to be. There are a lot of things in it that say it works. Maybe I’ll like it eventually.
After two years.