Tagalog comedy It Takes a Man and a Woman draws crowds in UAE and worldwide
A Tagalog romantic comedy screening in the UAE’s major cinemas has become a must-see hit for many of the country’s 600,000 Filipinos.
Held over for at least another week, It Takes a Man and a Woman has so far drawn a huge turnout: during a screening in Dubai last weekend, the full house of kabayans laughed, cried and clearly sympathised with the relatable characters.
And with it the film’s stars, John Lloyd Cruz and Sarah Geronimo, continue their winning streak, this time scoring something of an international hit as the film has been drawing out crowds in the US and Canada, too. Since the movie opened in theatres in the Philippines on March 30, it has become the second-highest grossing film in the country’s cinematic history, earning 375 million Philippine pesos (US$9m, Dh33m), just behind Sisterkas, a comedy that became a hit earlier this year.
It Takes a Man and a Woman is the third and final instalment in the continuing saga of the love story between Laida Magtalas (Geronimo) and the well-off Miggy Montenegro (Cruz), after A Very Special Love (2008) and You Changed My Life (2009). This time around it takes on a more mature twist, as Laida returns home to Manila from New York to work as a consultant for a publishing company, which just happens to be owned by her now former flame Miggy.
Left with no choice, the two former lovers are forced to coexist professionally to obtain the franchise of an international magazine brand.
What follows is a series of awkwardly funny scenes, with both Miggy and Laida trying to outwit each other in an apparent bid to gain control of the project. Their constant bickering turns out to be a manifestation of old wounds and unresolved issues from their messy break-up a couple of years back.
Toughened by heartbreak and from living on her own in a foreign land, Laida’s transformation from a giddy young girl to a confident career woman is noteworthy. Geronimo’s effective portrayal is both entertaining and charming and one can’t help but fall in love with her character as she struggles to reconcile her past with the present.
The 24-year-old singer-actress naturally shifts from drama to comedy with obvious ease, while Cruz provides a steady balance to Geronimo’s colourful take on her role.
“The director Cathy Garcia-Molina created roles that fit John Lloyd and Sarah perfectly. Next thing we knew, Miggy and Laida became household names. Add that factor to the stars’ crowd-drawing power, John Lloyd’s versatility, Sarah’s spontaneity, effective publicity, and you have three films making a mark on the public mind,” says Karen Pagsolingan, the managing editor of the entertainment website Pep, which stands for Philippine Entertainment Portal (www.pep.ph).
The film has been drawing big crowds in North America, too, with a photo of long lines to buy tickets at a theatre in Queens, New York, making it onto the CNN iReport page.
According to CNN, Carmencita Acosta, a Filipino-American nurse, reposted the photos she saw on Twitter because she was fascinated that so many people would turn out to see a “non-Hollywood” Filipino movie.
“This third movie is the best,” Acosta, who had planned to see the movie a second time, told the site. “It was funny, you could cry and you could fall in love again. It’s a simple feel-good movie and people just love it.”
Richelle Seguia, a 32-year-old administrator in Dubai, understands the wide appeal.
“The story is very real and anyone can easily identify with both Laida and Miggy and their situation.”
Lawrence Ignacio, a 32-year-old mechanic and part-time videographer in Abu Dhabi, said part of the appeal is the film’s fast pace.
“Every scene is entertaining and it combines drama and comedy without going over the top, which is the usual problem with a lot of our local movies,” he said.
Plot-wise, It Takes a Man and a Woman is a typical, lighthearted Filipino romantic movie, with the producers obviously intending it to be a crowd-pleaser. For some, that might be its glaring flaw.
But the film succeeds in bringing in all the essential elements common in Pinoy films – romance, humour, catchy lines, scenery and family – without appearing too contrived.
Despite a central theme revolving around love, moving on and forgiveness, the film “doesn’t wallow in sentimentality”, observes the veteran movie critic Mario Bautista.
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