MOVIE REVIEW: ANG DALAWANG MRS. REYES (2018)
Written by Jun Robles Lana and Elmer Gatchalian
Directed by Jun Robles Lana
I first became interested to see “Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes” for two reasons: I like both Judy Ann Santos and Angelica Panganiban because of their body of work (notably Juday in her Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo and Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo films under Joey Reyes and Angelica in the iconic “That Thing Called Tadhana” by Antoinette Jadaone) and the fact that they are both adept at comedy and drama. The other reason is that I am a fan of Jun Lana’s work. I enjoyed his previous films like “Barber’s Tales,” “Die Beautiful,” “Anino Sa Likod Ng Buwan” and “Bakit Lahat ng Guwapo May Boyfriend.” Too bad I never had the chance to see the highly-acclaimed “Bwakaw” where veteran actor Eddie Garcia gave an award-winning performance as an aging gay man.
The movie is about two women, both Mrs. Reyes, who are brought together because of heartbreaking circumstances. Their gay husbands have left them to be with each other despite that sacred word which is supposed to bind them: marriage. The movie deals with issues on love, understanding, anger, hatred, pain, LGBT and ultimately forgiveness basically from a woman’s point of view and how they cope with abandonment and betrayal from their gay husbands. It also shows sisterhood between the two leads and their supportive female friends. It also tries to properly label people based on their sexual preferences through sexual variants like the character of Felix who describes himself as “heteroflexible.”
I found myself laughing together with the appreciative crowd at Shangri-la Plaza Cinema when I saw it the first time and then with the snobbish crowd at Robinson’s Magnolia where the audience is usually cold and unreceptive. People were actually laughing because the scenes and the situations were all genuinely funny. This was made all the more memorable by the wonderful chemistry of Judy Ann Santos as Lianne and Angelica Panganiban as Cindy. Both Joross Gamboa (Gary) and JC de Vera (Felix) gave competent performances. Judy Ann and Angelica were both great in their roles but the movie really belonged to Judy Ann Santos who was brilliant. She had the better and meatier role as the wife full of anger and hatred who will stop at nothing to ruin her husband not thinking of the negative consequences.
The movie is not without flaws. For example, the rational thing to do if you are the wronged wife is to call a lawyer and sue your gay husband for abandonment or infidelity. I don’t think an intelligent person would have gone all the way to Taiwan and spy on her husband or waste time hiring a gay detective. But these scenes are really for cinematic effect and the movie would become a straight drama if it pursued the legal aspect. However, I have heard of many betrayed wives who have used social media to ruin the reputation of their philandering husbands whether straight or gay just to get back at them. Aside from its wonderful entertainment value, what I liked about the movie was the intelligent way gays were portrayed –as thinking, educated and discreet people and not as stereotype screaming faggots and wailing banshees usually portrayed onscreen just to elicit some cheap laughs.
The best thing about the film is its dialogue. It is very colloquial and, at times, very earthy and naughty with the right amount of cuss words and invectives which make the lines all the more realistic. The use of quotations is very effective like “pain will come with time but time will heal the pain,” and the one from Winnie The Pooh – “if you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I will never have to live without you.” My favorite character happens to be Macey brilliantly played by Andrea Brillantes. As the daughter caught between the battling gay husband Gary (Joross) and the pained and angry wife Lianne (Judy Ann), she is able to see things as it is and tell her parents exactly how the situation is and knock some sense into them. She tells her mother that getting back at her fahter through social media has only ruined their lives and people at school will talk behind her back. She is also able to tell her father to his face that she was there when he left them and that her mother had every right to get hurt and be angry for what he did which he had not realized. Sometimes, it takes an unbiased child’s opinion to knock some sense into the heads of confused adults.
Congratulations to Star Cinema for daring to give something different from the usual standard box-office fare that they are known for. I actually thought this movie was an indie based on the title. However, when I found out it was from Star Cinema, I thought it would be something light and fluffy. The film, in actuality, is anything but shallow or superficial. It is deep and introspective once we all get over the laughs and funny situations. In my opinion, the movie succeeded because it had two factors essential in a good movie – to enlighten and make a statement about love and acceptance and to entertain.
“Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes” is still showing in theaters nationwide.