Just the 3 of Us: In defense of romance

By Nonoy L. Lauzon/UP Film Institute

Much of the pleasure one may derive in watching the film is the cleverness by which situational comedy is mounted. Steering clear of any instance of taking a patronizing attitude towards women, both sexes have come to be fair game for the film’s agenda of enunciating human foibles in our times.

The hegemony of romance in Philippine cinema is secure. This is proven with the apparent success of Cathy Garcia-Molina’s Just the 3 of Us, now showing in theaters not only in the country but also overseas. The film pits Jennylyn Mercado with John Lloyd Cruz and tells the story of an unlikely romance between a man and a woman who are not searching for it and, in fact, may even be averse to it.

In the film, the damsel in distress of its tale has no knight in the shining armor to turn to. Its male protagonist is not only skeptical of the undertaking. He professes a philosophy of life that precludes all manifestations of love and affection; concern and commiseration. He will be proved wrong in the end but not without the glad meanderings for a comedy of, at once, errors and manners that must have gotten its inspiration from Shakespeare and Moliere.

The film offers a departure from one directed by a woman. The focus is less on the romantic heroine than on the film’s male lead. Its subject, the ill effects of an unwanted pregnancy, is tackled mainly from the surprisingly male instead of female perspective.

Progressive-mindedness runs through the course of the film with its assumed position on parenthood as a matter of sociology rather than biology. It upholds notions of reconfigured family that veer away from the nuclear model. Thus, in moments, the film has to acquiesce to the eminence of the traditional concept of what a family need be, the surreal is imbued and the absurd evoked.

Just the 3 of Us bears engaged viewing not for the romanticized outlook it espouses pertinent to the imperative of love in the world; but precisely for some radical thinking it has made room for in its narrative – to disrupt even for a little bit the hegemony that the very genre of romance has for far too long enjoyed. This is crucial especially now that the genre’s hold on the captive populace appears to be stronger than ever.

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