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JESSICA ZAFRA | Metro Manila Film Festival 2012 Moviethon: Day 6: The battle for Dingdong's dingdong

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The main problem with One More Try is not that it's an unauthorized remake of the Chinese movie In Love We Trustbut that the filmmakers took the trouble to rip off the entire storyline, only to turn it into the same shrill muddle-headed adultery melodrama Star Cinema has been churning out for years.

In the first place, how hard is it to acknowledge the source in the credits? Would it kill them to say, "Based on the film…" or "Adapted from…"? Surely the most successful studio in the country isn't so stingy as to wriggle out of paying for the rights, or so stupid as to assume that no one in the Philippines has ever heard of the Chinese movie. (There is this wondrous invention called the Internet. Look it up.) What happened to basic respect among filmmakers - has it vanished along with basic respect for the audience?

And then the jury of the Metro Manila Film Festival gives the Best Screenplay and Best Picture awards to One More Try, which tells us everything we need to know about the festival's standards. (Speaking of standards, why do we bother to review the festival entries when most of them are rubbish? Because they're not supposed to be rubbish! Contrary to what you’ve been led to believe, "entertainment" and "commercial appeal" are not synonyms for "garbage". There are good commercial movies, and there are bad commercial movies. The bad outnumber the good because the studios think the viewers are idiots.)

In the second place, isn't in-vitro fertilization (IVF) the last resort for couples who can't get pregnant? Doesn't it stand to reason that a couple desperate for a child would have a better chance of having a baby through IVF than through natural conception?

But that would render the movie pointless. In One More Try, the ex-lovers Grace (Angel Locsin) and Edward (Dingdong Dantes) have a child with severe aplastic anemia necessitating a bone marrow transplant. As neither parent is a match for the transplant, the doctors urge them to have another child who can be the bone marrow donor (The movie does not go into the rights of the child conceived as an organ factory). Of course there are complications: the father is married to another woman, Jacq (Angelica Panganiban), and the mother has a boyfriend, Tristan (Zanjoe Marudo). The obstetrician (Carmina Villaroel) says the ex-lovers can try IVF, but if that doesn't work they should just have sex. In fact the only purpose of the blabbermouth obstetrician character is to urge the exes to get it on. Why the cheerleading? Because if the exes don’t have sex, there is no movie.

The sick child is just an excuse for the same hysterical confrontations, crisp exchanges of slaps and "quotable" insults that make up traditional Pinoy melodramas. This is not a fight to save a sick child; this is a battle over Dingdong's dingdong. It is a teleserye with the volume turned up. During one encounter, the wife accuses the ex-girlfriend of having an unli-sex account with her husband - the movie can't decide whether it’s serious or campy. Yes, the performances are good: the actors have to be real professionals to keep from bursting into laughter at their ridiculous dialogue.

Aren't we over the career vs. motherhood conflict yet? Hey it's tough, but women have careers and kids all the time. Jacq feels guilty because she hasn't given Edward children - she miscarried because she wouldn’t take a break from her job. Now she won't let him knock up his ex: Boo! Kontrabida! The movie condemns Jacq for not being a mother, and roots for Grace, who would do anything for her son, including sleep with someone else’s husband. Sex becomes a form of sacrifice. Mothers are saints, childless career women are bitches. Look at the other career women: Jacq’s boss (Agot Isidro), who sounds like she's about to burst a blood vessel, and the indiscreet obstetrician, whose license should be revoked by the medical association.

At least the women have characters; the men have all the depth of inflatable dolls. Dantes manages to suggest an inner life - Edward isn't just the stud, but Zanjoe Marudo seems to be trapped in an Eye-Mo commercial.

One More Try continues the Star Cinema tradition (Did you see The Mistress?) of priggishness: Sex is icky and filthy and you'll pay for it. Ultraconservatives will approve of the movie's attitude: sex is for procreation only, because if there's pleasure in it, it's bad! Evil! At one point Jacq agrees to allow Edward to have sex with Grace, but "on her own terms" - for a moment we thought she was proposing a threesome or an hommage to The Handmaid's Tale, but her solution is actually more dirty-minded. And lest viewers get the impression that the movie condones adultery, they are assured that it's all for a good cause. The message is: Don't commit adultery, but do pay to watch it.