By MARGA MAGALONG
Formulaic or not, the fact that many of Direk Cathy Garcia-Molina’s films such as She’s Dating the Gangster and One More Chance have grossed over P100 million is implicit of director Cathy Garcia-Molina’s ability to capture the hearts of her audience. Cue in My Ex and Whys. With Molina casting crowd-favorites Enrique Gil and Liza Soberano, it’s no surprise that expectations were set high for the film, riling up LizQuen fans and press alike. The combination seemed foolproof for another box-office tearjerker. However, with awkward dialogue, campy cinematography, and its disproportionate chapter durations, even the strongest love teams couldn’t save this film.
In My Ex and Whys, Cali Ferrer (Liza Soberano) is a heartbroken call-center agent who puts up a blog called “The Bakit List” out of bitter frustration towards her ex-boyfriend Gio Martinez (Enrique Gil) who “cheated” on her while drunk. As the blog gains traction for its philosophies on love and hugot, surprise, surprise, Gio makes a blog called “The Dahil List,” where he replies to Cali’s posts.
The exchange gains an even bigger following and a travel company contacts Cali to be their brand ambassador. All things seem to check out nicely: Cali gets paid big bucks, travels, and helps support her family. The only catch? She has to travel with the blogger of “The Dahil List” himself, Gio Martinez.
With regard to cinematography, there is an attempt to make scenes aesthetically pleasing, only to result in an unnecessary, tacky mess. For starters, the shots of Cali and Gio in South Korea were breathtaking, but was it really necessary? One can only show this chapter of the film for so long but it dragged on, with near-to-perfect aerial shots and more shots of nothing but South Korean tourist spots without people.
Fishy. It makes you question if it was just a marketing ploy for South Korean tourism.
It’s also evident that stylists and production designers of the film really thought things through. It’s laudable how the film concentrates on red, blue and yellow colors with the outfits, the set design, and even the characters’ cars. However, styling the film doesn’t always guarantee an aesthetically pleasing film, and this was my issue. For example, the cars consistently being vibrant red or blue was too much of a contrast against the rest of the elements in their scenes.
As for acting, keep the over-the-top performance art to theater. As much as I support the director’s vision and will to express, the film’s moments of slapstick comedy and scenes of Cali’s family scolding her in chorus made My Ex and Whys feel even more inauthentic — hence, the film’s lack of relatability.
Liza’s character held great potential. The tragic backstory of Cali’s experience with the men in her life indulging and justifying infidelity sounded like a good precedent for Cali’s actions, but, to be honest, I couldn’t care less about Cali’s trauma post-Gio’s-drunk-cheating- sexcapade. It’s ambiguous whether I should put the blame on Liza Soberano’s acting or Cali Ferrer’s poorly constructed character, but I just didn’t see enough hurt. No one who has been cheated on and in their right mind would still consistently reply to their ex in such a pabebe fashion.
Even more so, the hasty and idyllic reconciliation of Cali and Gio in the airport made me question how severe, or rather, minor, Cali’s scars were. Although perhaps the film can’t afford the luxury of realism if you’re constrained by time – but alas, my amigo! This film is not excused. With a running time of two hours and 34 minutes, this film could’ve been as real and well-developed as it could afford it to be.
I can only weep about the film being #blessed with its luxury of time and budget — to Star Magic; good for you for producing another box-office hit, but it straight-up blows how you guys have yet again, spent enormous amounts of cash, hired talented actors, have a genuinely interesting concept…. but fail to break ground.