Melodrama is back. The blockbuster hit No Other Woman cleared the path for its return paving a more acceptable passage for the likes of Yesterday Today and Tomorrow. Come to think of it – melodrama never left. Mano Po carried the torch throughout the past decade (even if it was an annual affair). In between hundreds of horror films and thousands of romantic comedies Star Cinema releases a couple of melodramatic fares. But since hitting the pot of gold with No Other Woman, it is a safe bet the film production giant will release more from the much-missed genre (at least IN MY CASE I missed it a lot). Its latest offering, The Mistress, stars the bankable pair-up of John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo, touted to be the latter’s most daring screen project to date. It is also the comeback movie of the great Hilda Koronel. In one interview, the actress admitted the story lured her back to acting, “It has to be touching, it has to move me. Kapag binabasa ko ‘yung script na ‘yan kailangan nararamdaman ko’ yung emotion na tumatakbo dun sa script lalo na ‘yung mga dialogue. Kailangan habang sinasabi ko ‘yun maiiyak ba ako o hindi, something like that, nararamdaman ko dapat.” I did not shed tears last night but had a number of stifled shrieks during confrontation scenes. Pulling strength from its lead stars, The Mistress is reminiscent of the melodramas of the past featuring complicated relationships, delicious lines but without the usual face-slapping and hair-pulling scenes.
(I promise a spoiler-free post so no film recap here.)
Cruz is often compared to his (admit it) look-alike Dindo Fernando. Like Fernando, he is not the chiseled-face and abs-sculpted leading man most movie stars are but his talent and charisma carries him through a mind-blogging box-office streak. Cruz banners six of the ten highest-grossing local films - a movie ka-ching shoo-in if there is one. Though his record attests he can be paired with different leading ladies, his team-up with Alonzo is just more magical. (Just ask the millions of One More Chance fanatics out there.) The magic continues in The Mistress despite inhabiting more mature characters. Most of the positive reaction from the audience were during their scenes together and the reason is a no-brainer – SCREEN CHEMISTRY. These kids just look good together and the kind of stuff no acting school can ever teach.
Also noticeable is the improvement in Alonzo’s speaking voice. Her voice used to sound like its about to break into sobs but that has been lessened. As the titular character, she did a competent job as a lover, mistress, daughter and granddaughter. (I had to include the granddaughter part because I loved her scenes with Anita Linda who is both delightful and heartbreaking as her grandmother.) Just one thing: Bea tends to stare open-mouthed in some of her scenes and it is kind off-putting but other than that she proved her acting mettle once more.
“He is with her every Thursday, every f*ckin’ Thursday f*ckin’ her!” Hilda Koronel delivered the line with equal parts relish and spite in the middle of a drunken marathon and am like, “More of her please! More Hilda!” Not a speck of acting rust afflicts this incredible actress. The best scene: an inebriated Koronel about to fall asleep but not before revealing an old secret. There she is scared, guilt-ridden and in a dramatic high all of sudden dropping a punchline. Her impressive dramatic stature has obscured her comic talent. I am going to spell it out: C-R-Y-I-N-G L-A-D-I-E-S.
The Mistress has its share of negative points including distracting theme songs, predictable plot twists and a so-so denouement. Let me elucidate on the ending: I like the final scene except for the sort of dream sequence. The process of knotting the loose ends is a bit of blah and too derivative for me (each of us has a different taste). It could have been better but the film remains compelling and should enthrall hardcore fans and the general audience. I just like a proper melodrama and this is more than sufficient.
- The Alonzo-Cruz team-up is the most credible and formidable acting partnership out there because theirs is built on a no drama foundation. It thrives on their film output not made-up press release crap.
- K Brosas is hilarious. Her quips are just effin hilarious.
- Clarence Delgado – the uber-cute kid in the film – is quite the scene-stealer as Mamon.
- “Why Hilda Koronel Accepted the Mistress” http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/entertainment/09/04/12/why-hilda-koronel-accepted-mistress