A Spoiler-Free "A Second Chance" Review

I was 18 when I watched One More Chance for the first time. Back then, I wasn't too familiar with John Lloyd and Bea's work. I only knew them as an in-demand love team who already had some serious teleserye experience.  What drew me to the movie was how hard-hitting its trailer was. Who wouldn't be moved by a crying John Lloyd and a crying Bea throwing down the realest lines about love? Thankfully, I wasn't the only one who felt that way. One day, my blockmates and I decided to watch it after discussing our impressions of the trailer and that more and more people were recommending the movie. So after a psychology class on a Tuesday (or Thursday?) afternoon we drove to Eastwood to catch the 4-ish showing of the movie.

It wasn't as dramatic as the trailer would have liked us to believe. Sure it had heavy moments, but it was balanced out by some form of humor (i.e. a jeep blaring Jeremiah's Nanghihinayang, or Janus Del Prado committing suicide via overdose of shampoo). The sawi lines were just as poignant as the first time I've heard them in the trailer. It was also my first time to experience John Lloyd's acting. It was natural, effortless but deeply affecting. I left the theater having this mix of emotional fatigue and excitement that I've never felt before in a Filipino movie. One More Chance not only converted me into a John Lloyd fan, but also a believer in Filipino cinema. It made me hopeful that Filipino cinema was more than the Enteng Kabisotes and Tanging Inas in MMFFs.

(My track record of Filipino films watched in a theater wasn't stellar at that time. Aside from the MMFF films, the other two Filipino movies were Jolina-Marvin's Hey Babe! and Dolphy's Tatay Nick)

Jump to eight years after, at 26, I'd like to think I'm smarter but also almost a hundred pounds heavier. I chose to leave my market research job of five years to blog and podcast about Filipino pop culture because I wanted to do something I'm passionate about. So here I am writing my thoughts on One More Chance's sequel.

I was skeptical when Star Cinema first announced that a sequel to One More Chance was in production. Why now? It felt odd that Star Cinema suddenly took interest in creating a sequel to an eight year old film. Since sequels are a big thing in Hollywood, and Star Cinema knew about the film's cultural impact, I was afraid that the sequel was just a cash grab. So even though I was excited enough to catch the first showing of its first day (by my lonesome), I still expected the worst.

If you're coming in expecting A Second Chance to be an updated version of the original with bigger one-liners and grander romantic gestures, you'll be disappointed. Cathy Garcia-Molina and the writers knew they needed to do something different. Something that hasn't been done successfully in mainstream Filipino cinema, just like what the first film did eight years ago. And I'm happy that they took these risks because it made A Second Chance such an affecting and effective film.

At its core, A Second Chance was developed with the millennial audience of One More Chance in mind. The same teenagers and yuppies who watched the movie eight years ago. They knew that these people have grown up and moved on with their lives. In those eight years, these people could have graduated from school, have gotten a job, have gotten married or even have kids. The audience is much smarter and wiser than they were before. Hence, telling a straightforward rosy love story would't cut it.  If the second movie wanted to reach the same impact the first movie had with the same audience, it must reflect the audience's current experiences.

That's why  I found it smart of them to have the sequel also happen eight years after the original film. Now at their late 20s or early 30s, romantic love was the least of Popoy and Basha's problems. They're fights mostly stem from managing finances, career issues and even their Meralco bill. These things aren't the sexiest of problems but it doubles down on the movie's realness. It's a definite way to tell the audience, "Hey, the characters you've known and loved also grew along with you and they have the same problems as you."

Not only were the problems in the movie more complex but the storytelling was also layered; something that a few mainstream Filipino movies have attempted to do. Because of this, the movie may seem flat or straightforward if you only take it at face value. It tries its best to provide you memeable one-liners but felt off in this kind of mature story. The movie works best when you try and notice the finer visual and dialogue details that can add to the audience's understanding of Popoy and Basha's marriage (i.e. Basha's deteriorating phone, Popoy's insistence to do his calamity-proof project)

Finally, what made ASC such an affecting movie for me was its decision to tackle opportunities and choices. It's an appropriate theme to tackle especially when you have a millennial audience. How comfortable are we with the choices we make in life? Popoy and Basha took a risk when they got back together. Poy took a risk when he stayed in the Philippines instead of pursuing his career in Europe. They both made a choice when they got married. Both took a risk when they opened their own construction firm. We're all confident of our life choices during the moments when we make them. But several years down the line, when reality already hits you and you're life's not as ideal as how you envisioned it. Or when you see other people who took risks fared better than you. Would you still be comfortable with your decisions?

OTHER THOUGHTS AND NOTES:

  • Apparently Popoy is a nickname and Basha's a firstname
  • ASC continues JLC's streak as an awful employer
  • Blatant in-movie product placements: 2 (medicine and crackers)
  • Note the gender dynamics between Popoy and Basha
  • I'm happy that the JLC Hypothesis didn't happen in this movie. I'd be pretty pissed if it still happened after Basha's emergence
  • I'm all-in for a Thursday Barkada TV series on their college days in UST. I'd like to see how Krizzy (Dimples Romana) and Kenneth (James Blanco) formed their strong relationship or what made Anj (Bea Saw) such a bitter pragmatist.
  • Bea Saw was on point in being Katherine Heigl! Star Cinema, please develop Anj's story into a romcom.
  • Bea Alonzo had this "too tired to care" face throughout the movie. It was reminiscent of Shiri Appleby's FTS face in UnREAL.
  • I'm not happy with the surprise star they chose to play Pedro.