THE PRENUP by Jun Robles Lana
Starring Jennylyn Mercado and Sam Milby
Reviewed at the red carpet premiere at SM Megamall
The PreNup follows an expected love story that blossoms when Jennylyn Mercado’s Wendy and Sam Milby’s Sean meet on an airplane en route to New York (by the way, this is not That Thing Called Tadhana). Just like in your usual romantic movies, they have a rough start in a traffic encounter going to the airport but swiftly become comfortable with each other to the point of Sean offering a hand to Wendy by letting her stay in his place for quite some time. In a matter of days, they decide to get married.
In the same manner that the two main characters have a rough beginning, the first act of the movie appears to be problematic in establishing (a good excuse to) the romance between Wendy and Sean. There is not enough character development, not to mention sparks–that sensational comfort that yes they are in love–all despite the allotted time. There are other stories where we already witnessed a good tandem of an English-speaking guy and an easygoing girl speaking in the vernacular. Hearing their exchanges of lines can be lovely at times, but largely uncomfortable with her street slang seemingly fine in his uptown ears.
It feels like the second act is where the story actually begins. Perhaps, this is the way it was conceived with the idea of having the conventionally huge meet-the-parents scene where socioeconomical strata is such a big deal. With more characters having their own spotlights, The PreNup then heads on to being extremely loud with much of the focus being lost along the way. Gardo Versoza and Dominic Ochoa have to be commended for their excellent portrayals as the gay foster parents of Wendy. Melai Cantiveros plays a goofy adopted sister to Wendy, alongside a boyish Ella Cruz sans the twerking. Another highlight is Jaclyn Jose’s take as the oppressive mother of two (Sean and Neil Coleta’s Boom) and a perfect pair to Freddy Webb’s fatherly figure.
What saves The PreNup’s deficiency in storytelling is Jun Robles Lana’s powerful direction. In the midst of each character being too absorbed in their individual dilemmas, Lana is able to let them float their own boats. On the flip side, everyone turns out to be too busy with the rest of the story as the last act unfolds.
With a stylish stroke that relishes the lush of Central Park and the busy streets of New York City as essential parts of the story, cinematographer Carlo Mendoza is able to consistently give the vibrance needed to establish a feel-good atmosphere. Frames after frames are painted with visually striking colors that make them easy to watch, coupled with neat production designs by Sarah Edwards and Ericson Navarro apparent in Wendy’s house in Manila and in Sam’s apartment in New York.
After the success of English Only, Please that can largely be attributed to Mercado’s memorable performance, it can’t be helped but to expect something as big as, if not bigger than, what she has already done. It is as if there is nothing else to prove with regard to her versatility as an actress. While it shares the romantic comedy genre with EOP, The PreNup makes her shine even brighter with quirkier monologues and more comfortable gestures and expressions. Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” could have been utilized further but there seems to be much restraint on it as a catchy soundtrack.
It would have been lovelier to see The PreNup with a more solid story but what we have at hand is reasonable–only with Jennylyn Mercado’s effective acting and indispensable charm–as everything else goes downhill.