Everything About Her Movie Review
2016, Philippines – Directed by Bb. Joyce Bernal
A successful mother who learns she has cancer, an estranged son who returns with his memories of feeling abandoned, and a career-driven girl who will serve as their bridge to patch things up. Sounds familiar? Everything About Her follows this set of characters but it sure manages to play its own notes to the tune of a rather familiar plot. The result is an enjoyable composition: one that is wary of its rhythm, one that stays true to a melody that has long since been easy for the ears for many Filipino moviegoers.
Directed by Bb. Joyce Bernal, Everything About Her tells the story of a real estate tycoon named Dr. Vivian Rabaya (Vilma Santos), a ferocious president and CEO of her own company who is too well-known and powerful to be shooed for her manners and foul language. The film opens with a showcase of Vilma’s character that calls to mind Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. Tension rises as far as the music is concerned, concluding that opening with Vivian losing her balance.
When she is told by her doctor that she is suffering from multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow identified for having several tumors), Vivian merely laughs it off by saying “It’s just cancer. I won’t become mad because of cancer.” The doctor tells her that normally a patient diagnosed with such illness has 29 months to live.
Enters Angel Locsin’s Jaica Domingo, a determined young lad who–despite her loud and oftentimes crass demeanor–cares a lot about her family and her work as a nurse. Jaica is recommended to Vivian by the hospital’s head doctor to be the rich woman’s private nurse. As expected, their relationship does not go along well at first until it nourishes into something grounded on affection—not just because it is basically a job but because Jaica has grown into being close to her employer. There is indispensible dedication when it comes to giving her all for Vivian.
Innate to Bernal as a filmmaker is her unmistakable grasp in comedy. On crucial points where comic relief might not be necessary, her cast carries out effectively—not just to call for laughter but to keep the audience drawn to these characters, their motivations as well as their individual dilemmas. It is just nice to laugh it all off and see how these characters react and clash with one another. Aside from the kinky Balenciaga scene (“Kunin mo na rin ang Balenciaga bag ko. Do’n ko gustong sumuka ulit”), notable is that one where Jaica, after getting confused with the text message from the hospital head doctor, mistakenly sends a hate text message to Vivian. “Di mo naman sinabing impakta ang potah!” is such a winning line (or at least a memorable one at that).
The other third of the film’s triumvirate is just as important. Xian Lim plays the role of Albert Mitra, the son who has since grieved over the thought that his mother abandoned him when she left him as a kid. Contacted by Jaica and having been informed that his mother is ill, he returns home and accepted the job offer as the engineer of the company’s latest project. They are not to tell his knowledge of the cancer. However, slip of the tongue cannot be avoided, and as it happens, things begin to collapse along with his sanity. Jaica is there to provide inspiration which would later on blossom into romantic love. The good part here is that it does not feel forced in any way.
Lim may not be at his most efficient here but there is a commendable degree of resolve in his acting. Hopefully, he could later on mature into a fruit ripe enough to be foraged. And with good materials like this one, he could be sharpened to his best.
Not to be dismissed, of course, is the importance of the supporting characters in the story. Unlike other Star Cinema movies, Everything About Her properly utilizes its supporting characters. Instead of turning them into stereotyped displays (best friend, omniscient family relative, and so on), they are indeed “support” to our main characters as they exhibit human behaviors and even stimuli to act or talk they way do. Adding colors to the interconnected lives of our protagonists are the characters played by Michael De Mesa, Nonie Buencamino, Khalil Ramos, Devon Seron, Alexa Ilacad, Jana Agoncillo, Vangie Labalan, Buboy Villar, Niña Dolino and Bart Guingona.
Everything About Her intently focuses on two family ties that have striking contrast. While Vivian is emotionally pained due to the detachment of her son, Jaica longs for her similarly estranged mother. Both of these conflicts are given the resolutions they deserve. The journey is just as throbbing as what the characters portray but there is ultimately the fulfilling factor that makes everything look positive afterwards. At first, Vivian and Jaica oppose their own poles, but as they discover each other, they get to learn the contents of their hearts however hurting the act could be. Santos and Locsin meets halfway at the same level of caliber that is equally remarkable and substantial. The film’s touching moments make it difficult to forget their chemistry, much more to realize that they are all out with their performances.
“Pag nagkakamali ba ang nanay, di mo na siya nanay? Pag binigo ka niya, nababawasan ba ang pagkananay niya? Nanay pa rin kami. Nanay niya pa rin ako.”
In spite of the predictability of the story right from the very beginning, the entire ride is memorable, granted how the story is weaved without compromise—without fear that the audience would not stay put. As it wants to stir up sadness towards its ends, it controls itself by giving into the tested formula of the outlet. True enough, it works fine on that note. There is a stinging sensation at the end of the line but happy thoughts prevail and make use of its impact.
Before the last frame, Vivian cries, “But in the end, even if we die alone, we need other people.” As we hold onto her last words, there is really much to relate to in her story as there is much to believe in ourselves. Familial attachment is everything about her. And we are more than familiar with that.