In the Q&A of one screening of her first film Six Separation from Lilia Cuntapay early this year, Antoinette Jadaone mentioned that she will not get tired of doing romantic comedy projects because she knows she is meant for this genre. True enough, the energy never falters for the young director who knows how to tug at the heartstrings of the Filipino audiences.
Jadaone has been on a roll since last year with one movie project after another. Her most successful feat to date is her directorial and penning merits for Cinema One Originals’ That Thing Called Tadhana starring Angelica Panganiban and JM De Guzman. This year, she smoothly transitioned to the local tube with On the Wings of Love starring James Reid and Nadine Lustre. In her first Metro Manila Film Festival entry, she managed to bring out many forms of love from a powerhouse ensemble through All You Need is Pag-ibig.
Calling to mind Love Actually, All You Need is Pag-ibig tells the interconnected stories of different people who fall in and out of love.
In the media setting, after breaking down in a live TV guesting, Love (Kris Aquino), a love advice guru who has been hosting her own show for fifteen years, flies to Coron in Palawan where she accidentally meets Dom (Derek Ramsay). In the workplace setting, we have Mel (Jodi Sta. Maria) who has a crush on her heartbroken boss Eric (Ian Veneracion).
The young ones and the young at heart have two separate stories. Anya (Kim Chiu), with her high school sweetheart Dino (Xian Lim) pretends to be successful during a high school reunion; and on the other hand, we have Loisa (Nova Villa) who feels that her husband, Jaime (Ronaldo Valdez), has been neglecting her and asks that they part ways.
A forgettable link to Kim’s character is the kid she tutors (Bimby Aquino Yap). On the side, we see a lonely heart in Corina (Pokwang) who takes care of twins Kelsey and Hannah (Talia and Julia Concio).
Not everything is as interesting as the whole idea of earnestly looking into different forms of romantic love across different ages. Two stories work the best among the lot: that of Jodi-Ian and that of Nova-Ronaldo. The sparks are consistently there, regardless of the contrasting tone of their stories. The blossoming love story in the office is well-suited for Jodi and Ian, whose pairing is fresh off the TV drama Pangako Sa ‘Yo. The withering love story between the characters of Nova and Rolando effectively touches the heart albeit reminiscent of the similarly-themed 1st Ko si Third where Nova plays the lead role.
Apart from the two given highlights, it can be easily considered that other scenes serve as breathers in between those portions that are so amusing to string along with. Kris exudes a different “Kris Aquino” which is very far from her usual loud, obnoxious take on her characters. It’s nice to see Derek without his shirt on but it pretty much sums up as a requirement for the films he has been doing. Had Herbert Bautista’s original inclusion to this project materialized, there could have been a better story for Kris to follow through, if not merely a comedy relief. The Kim-Xian tandem does not work as much as their story demands with two of them confined in stereotypical delivery of young adult personalities. Pokwang’s solitary condition is not as affecting as in her previous roles like in A Mother’s Story.
For whatever it lacks in its narrative, the film compensates with fascinating cinematography, making it impossible not to take notice of the beauty of the locations as well as the keenness in designs.
Ultimately, All You Need is Pag-ibig might not be the strongest among the works of Jadaone. However, it renders with the singular vision of showcasing various stories through voices that need to be heard by its audiences–fans or not of the romance genre. There is more to see in Jadaone as a television and movie director but it would be beneficial for her to take some time off her comfort zones. Who knows, there could be a wider landscape ahead just waiting to be discovered.