Visually appealing ang ‘Ex With Benefits’. Well acted out din ito, relatable ang dialogue, at mayroon ding memorable lines. Pero when it comes to the story, sana mas naging daring pa ito.
SYNOPSIS: Adam (Derek Ramsay) and Arki (Coleen Garcia) went to school together and had a promising relationship until Arki suddenly left Adam without a word…They finally cross paths years after their breakup. And, there’s something they can’t get enough of – “benefits.” However, just as everything is getting back on track, the secrets of the past will resurface, forcing Adam and Arki to discover if exes could really give each other a second chance or not. (synopsis from the official website)
DIRECTOR: Gino M. Santos
WRITERS: Ruth Mendoza (story), Jeff Stelton (screenplay)
GENRE: Romance, Comedy
CAST: Derek Ramsay | Coleen Garcia | Meg Imperial | Rayver Cruz | Carmi Martin | Miko Raval
Bago pa man ipinalabas ang Ex With Benefits, naging usap-usapan ang trailer nito dahil daw it puts into bad light ang reputation ng Filipino medical representatives (kung ano ang connect nito sa kuwento will be discussed in a bit). Love it or hate it, the trailer does provoke interest. Medyo subversive ang tema; from the looks of it, taliwas sa typical Wattpad-based rom-com ang tutunguhin ng pelikula.
The end result is just…okay lang. In this technically-sound movie, the downer is the story itself, because despite its (actually better) efforts to spice it up by adding sex (lots of it) and comedy, in the end, nahulog pa rin ang pelikula sa usual traps at–dare I say it–cliches na palaging matatagpuan sa Pinoy love stories.
Magkaklase sa med school sina Adam (Derek Ramsay) at Arki (Coleen Garcia) when an incident tore them apart at iniwan ni Arki si Adam without explanation. Flash forward to ten years later at isa nang batikang sports doctor si Adam, samantalang si Arki naman, isa nang med rep who slept her way to the top (yes, it was established in the movie that she beds and flirts with doctors para makakuha ng endorsement para sa mga gamot na binebenta niya). Nagkita sila muli dahil may bagong gamot ang pharmaceutical company ni Arki and she needed Adam to endorse it. Si Adam naman, hindi pa nakaka-get over kay Arki, so the two of them reconnected–in every sense of the word.
This could have been a good
sex comedy, something na
hindi pa (ulit) nakikita sa mga
recent Pinoy films.
See, okay na sana yung premise na ‘to and the movie would have benefited more had it stuck with this daring formula. For the most part of the movie, mayroon tayong isang sexually active and liberated woman who is sure of herself and knows how to get what she wants; isang doctor who likewise does not really play by the rules; and lots of (tastefully-shot) love scenes na hindi lang meant to show ang chemistry nina Ramsay at Garcia, but also meant to show the development of their love story: from love to loss to lust and (spoiler alert) back to love again. Then there is that pseudo-social commentary tungkol sa kalagayan ng medical industry sa bansa. As it is, this could have been a good sex comedy, something na hindi pa (ulit) nakikita sa mga recent Pinoy films.
Instead mukhang nagkaroon ng hesitation. Towards the end parang isinaksak ang halos lahat na ng Pinoy rom-com elements para lagyan ng “puso” o “konsiyensiya” ang mga tauhan, most especially Arki. Nariyan ang family problems, ang supposed other woman in the form of Scarlet (Meg Imperial), at ang “kayong mga babae/lalaki” speeches. Granted, there is this big reveal that answers the question why Arki left Adam all those years ago, at ang isyung tinalakay could have been explored and expounded more. Pero that scene just went by too fast. In the end, it appears that Adam and Arki still care about what others would think after all.
Ex With Benefits is actually good. It is, quite literally, visually appealing: from the actors’ physical attributes to the shots of Metro Manila skyscapes, to house interiors, to the mood and lighting in the scenes, well, kudos to direk Gino (#Y) for such an accomplishment. Mahusay din ang chemistry nina Derek at Coleen. Some characters may have been underutilized, as in the case of Imperial’s Scarlet, na hindi alam kung karibal ba ni Arki o confindant ni Adam ang papel niya (or both; at ginawan pa siya ng backstory sa lagay na ‘yan), but the ensemble overall is good. Ayos din ang dialogue, despite some of the abovementioned monologues towards the end.
But this movie could have been a lot better. Marahil ang hesitation para maging all-out subversive ang pelikulang ito stems from may be assumption na hindi pa handa ang mga manonood para sa isang “mature” na love story in a commercial release. Or marahil may attempt to balance the story out for the more “family-friendly” rating (it is rated R-13). Or maybe it’s in the source material. Whatever the case, gaya ng nabanggit, this movie could have been that refreshing something we haven’t seen in a while. ♦