This early, I would like to drive this point. Antoinette Jadaone’s latest big screen assignment is not an intelligent film. It’s a Bridget Jones Dairy rip-off (don’t tell us the fight scene interrupted by carolers is an original concept), it’s flawed, blatantly commercialized (with five product placements) and inconsistent.
How can someone not notice that she is being followed by another vehicle, a big pickup truck at that? And why would someone go back to a motel room, which is tidied up, made-up and vacuumed after every “use,” to look for a missing engagement ring? Isn’t he supposed to be asking the front desk officer?
Jadaone overlooked minute yet logical details in the story because she was too excited to finish off her new rom-com to see if it would elicit the same kind of feedback from people who enjoyed watching This Thing Called Tadhana.
The story unfolds with an illustrated montage of Chinggay (Jodi Sta. Maria) confronted by the dreaded question most women in their 30s often encounter: When are you getting married?
The film’s premise lies on the central character torn between the romantic attention of two men – Frank and Ryan (played by Richard Yap and Ian Veneracion, respectively). Frank is a former flame whom she chanced upon after attending an investment seminar. Meanwhile, Ryan is a client who bought an engagement ring at the jewelry shop she’s working in only to be dumped by his girlfriend as soon as he proposed.
Loveless for almost seven years, Chinggay is determined to give love another shot. But destiny seems to be playing a practical joke on her.
After opening her doors to Ryan, she is quick to realize that she is just a rebound girl. With Frank waiting in the wings, she turns to her ex-lover and gives the man another chance to prove that he’s already a changed man. They both try to work things out but when Chinggay finally confesses her true feelings for Frank, the latter decides to leave believing that Chinggay’s heart belongs to Ryan now.
This uncomplicated narrative gives the audience a glimpse of Chinggay’s vulnerability. She is hungry for love and she has so much to give. But her episodes with Frank and Ryan make her realize that she doesn’t need a man to be happy, to be complete and appreciate her singlehood and independence. And that makes Chinggay a very relatable character, which Sta. Maria essays with ease.
Sta. Maria is the evident jewel, the saving grace of The Achy Breaky Hearts. Though her character does not require special acting skills, she made the rom-com an interesting genre. She brands Chinggay as a person who is vulnerable but not dumb and hilarious yet classy. One particular scene that endears Sta. Maria to the audience is when Chinggay tries to convince herself that she’s perfectly fine after realizing she’s got herself into a rebound relationship. Picture this: She enters her room, closes the door and tells herself she’s not going to cry…cue K & the Boxers’ novelty song “Sasakyan Kita.” She dances sassily while she sings along. She’s all smiles yet is very close to tears.
While Sta. Maria delivers, Veneracion just gives a decent performance. He is worth every airtime though. His face flashed on the screen is enough to draw shrieks from the crowd. But the same thing cannot be said of Yap. He’s stiff and looks uncomfortable. His facial expression and the way he delivers his lines lack sincerity. Yet, when together with Sta. Maria, he appears as if he’s the only actor suited for the role.
In general, The Achy Breaky Hearts highlights plausible rulings about love and relationship. The chemistry between the main characters is palpable though the love triangle of Jodi Sta. Maria, Richard Yap and Ian Veneracion is manufactured for the audience to get a slice of a romantic tale aimed at delivering what a rom-com should be doing to begin with. If only we didn’t see Bridget Jones Diary then we could have forgiven the film for its lousiness. In essence, the film is like a comfort food, which is not necessarily rich in nutrients, but it’s delicious enough to make someone feel better.