By Nonoy L. Lauzon/UP Film Institute
For all the film’s flaws and shortcomings, one has to credit its filmmakers for a positive representation of the sacrifices, and even heroism, concomitant to the plight of protective, well-meaning and nurturing singles raising children of their own.
Master screenwriter-director Jose Javier Reyes’ My Bebe Love distinguishes itself apart from most other entries at this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival by steering clear of the popular-cinema tendency to depict female frailty. At last, the country has come up with mass-market, big-screen feature that has no need and didn’t have to heed the temptation to capitalize on the suffering of disadvantaged women.
A review of the auteur’s body of work may reveal a track record for misogyny. But in this romantic comedy that may be the yearend festival’s biggest moneymaker, the anti-woman stance common in Reyes’ past films is happily, by some miracle, out of the picture.
Kept to the minimum in the film, if not altogether gone, as well as resorting to toilet humor and slapstick – the better to foreground a brand of situational comedy that, while remaining to be generally predictable, exerts effort not to insult viewers’ intelligence. It though has its water loo in being unable to avoid product placement.
Cineplexes nowadays are not content with just showing commercials in between screenings alongside trailers of forthcoming attractions. The films they unreel must also carry these commercials in their plots and story lines. At any rate, My Bebe Love calls for serious attention for its pitch on the merits of single parenthood.
Of the four MMFF selections that bank on the genre of romance, My Bebe Love ends up to be the most accomplished. The film proves to be decidedly superior with a focused narrative that is most pronounced in its simplicity and in altogether doing away with clutter and unnecessary issues. By this, Reyes is able to demonstrate the master in him at work in glaring contrast to what the newbies in the same racket and trade can ever muster and put up.
The film manages to be suitably informed with a welcome sense of deprecation as well as a wise and winsome Shakespearean peg – serving as useful and enduring reminder to today’s dreary and wary audiences of the sheer folly of love as the most intense of human emotions that may darn well be the wellspring of much trouble and foibles in the world.
It acquits itself, pretty well too, with a major turn in the unfolding of its tale. In a reversal of circumstances, the parental characters of Vic Sotto and Ai-Ai de las Alas have to be in the receiving end of “parenting” from their respective kids as they find themselves in a familiar same forbidden scenario that the romancing youngsters played by Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza are first trapped in. This is one twist of occasional irony that kind of makes the film appear to be all-too ingenious and a cut above the crap.