Wednesday, November 1, 2017

“12” Movie Review: Well Acted Exploration Of What Went Wrong In A Relationship That Lasted For 12 Years

 “12” is a two-character experimental film shot inside only one set, the home of the lead characters. An adult drama about how lovers who used to be so intense about their feelings for each other lose the steam in their relationship after years of routinary behavior, it also tells us that falling in love is easy, it is staying in love and maintaning your feelings that is the difficult part.

The film starts with Erica (Alessandra de Rossi) and Anton (Ivan Padilla) about to end their relationship after 5 years of being friends and 7 years of living in, a total of 12 years, which is the film’s title. The narrative takes a non-linear trajectory, but even the flashbacks do not come in chronological order, with the story moving freely backward and forward in time, so it’s up to viewer to patch things up in his mind to get the big picture.

The cutting and transitions can be jarring at times and tends to draw attention away from the story’s emotional core, but as an exploration of the highs and lows of romance, it’s emotionally honest and will resonate with all viewers who have ever been involved in a relationship, whether failed or successful.

It’s Erica who wants out of the relationship. She says she gave her all to it and, in the process, she lost her sense of individuality. She gave up her own career and became a stay at home partner who serves Anton faithfully, until the magic is gone and their romance loses its spark.

Domestic discord sets in and even sex becomes more of a requirement rather than something they mutually enjoy indulging in. She says he became so demanding, while she became so submissive. Anton says: “Because of you, I found myself.” And she retorts: “And I lost mine.”

After “Munting Tinig”, Alessandra got mired in playing mostly character or contravida roles, especially on TV. Earlier this year, the big hit that was “Kita Kita” reminded people that she can still do lead roles and here in “12”, she gives her finest performance ever. What’s nice about her effortless portrayal of Erica is she’s not acting at all.

She can deliver her lines very subtly, casually and it still comes out full of impact. The crowd at the UP Film Center gave her a big round of applause in that scene where she just imitated her leading man’s way of saying “Tagaytay” with an American accent. And what’s even more amazing is that she herself wrote the film’s story and full screenplay, which has all the apt nuances to tell the bittersweet story of a romance gone wrong.

In contrast, Ivan Padilla started quite high strung with his performance but he learns how to temper it as the movie goes along and gets to tone down his acting. He eventually comes up with an equally charming intepretation of the tortured Anton who never got validation from his parents. His final scene while eating pizza while shedding tears is really quite touching.

Some scenes of endless bickering, ugly accusations and bitter recriminations can be quite repetitive, but as a whole, it is very involving from start to finish and you can’t help but feel a certain sadness with the couple’s falling out. Director Dondon Santos understands the strengths of his two stars and redeems himself after his lackluster work in the tepid Piolo Pascual drama, “Northern Lights”. The lovely lensing and the fine musical score (with Alessandra herself writing and singing the film’s fetching theme song) all contribute to the picture’s being surely worth watching.

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