(One More Try – Star Cinema directed by Ruel Bayani)
One More Try attempts to revive the formula of beleaguered love by imbuing it moral choice. It failed disastrously. Caught in the snarls of an ill-conceived story, it stumbles countless times. In it, drama explores the limits of absurdity and viewing becomes an exercise in dredging the pit of incongruity. This is most apparent in the final conciliatory scene, one suffused with apologies and promises. After an awkward silence, the actors dutifully deliver lines in a final segment that can only be described as an inept afterthought. The droll and futile arguments they spewed at each other throughout their poorly imagined lives hover as ghastly background. The only reason we sit through the end is to pat ourselves on the back for becoming astute seers: knowing exactly how this movie will dissipate. The awards heaped on One More Try evade logic and at best illustrate the failure of ‘entertainment’ as conceived by the Metro Manila Film Festival organizers.
One More Try opens in Baguio and a summer affair. This arduous, youthful attraction between Edward (Dingdong Dantes) and Grace (Angel Locsin) begets a love child who now battles a rare lymphatic cancer. The child fails numerous bone marrow transplants and needs his father. Patch this past onto the life of a young, successful couple yearning for a child yet unable to beget another offspring. Jac / Jacqueline (Angelica Panganiban), the woman in this fairytale marriage is an upwardly mobile advertising executive torn between success and guilt. She is by turns, confusingly sharp and witless in her attempts to please husband Edward. This fairytale marriage is marred by the husband’s past – a child from the brief summer affair who badly needs a bone marrow match. From when they began solving this matching conundrum, the film begins a headlong plunge to ruin. Failing numerous matches, the gynaecologist suggests in-vitro fertilization which again predictably failed. Seemingly pushed against the wall, old lovers were needlessly set for a night together which again fails – the rusty fulcrum of failure the film exploits. Jac, Edward, Grace and her lover Tristan (Zanjoe Marudo) are forced to gamble their hearts, bodies and gut for what they thought was a morally upright choice.
Up until this experiment in conceiving a child, the story maintains precarious lucidity but throw in this wavering mix the odd character of an obstetrician (the screeching Carmina Villaroel) and we begin to sense comic doom. Jac, Angelica Panganiban’s character quips “We will never run out of money but my patience is running thin!” – such astuteness because I felt similar exasperation at this point in the film. From then on, One More Try attempted to regain its footing but to no avail. It seems like the ragged patch of road hastily mapped for the film to tread is but a slippery descent to sure failure. The requisite stream of tears, rage, and furies cannot make up for a slack and slovenly narrative.
Sparks fly between actresses Panganiban and Locsin, but the same cannot be said for the artificial chemistry between them and lead actors Dantes and the regrettably forgettable Zanjoe Marudo. Dantes glares, seduces, romps, but little can be said of his acting. Great wonder over the best performance award for a male actor, for lack of choice I guess. Marudo woos and pouts, cries and frets – the odd character in a poorly designed game. This film’s trudge to ruin is long and drawn out. No acting from its lead actresses can ever redeem it. We waver between incredulity and absurdity as arguments are thrown back and forth, the conversations between the film characters swinging like a badly wound pendulum in off-kilter rhythm.
So let’s try this again and spell it out. Why can’t we have a bevy of well directed, well told films when the year closes? Surely, entertainment need not be empty and inane (we endure this kind often enough from the halls of politics all throughout the year). Movies that bank on the surface gloss of fairy tale lives are not far from midday entertainment shows – they suck the heft of life’s hardships, profit from them and deceive in cunning.
However much I turn the scenes from One More Try over in my head – from the early flashback sequence to the run of the mill ending, from that cloying end back to the formulaic beginning (such desperate straining) – there is no meat or backbone to this flagging and absurd story. What it lacks in credibility, it makes up for with the flashy trappings of an expected mainstream box office success – figures and promotions as tiresome and vexing as anything can get.