Sunday, November 6, 2016


Depiction of marriage in movies such as Two for the Road (1967), The mirror has two faces (1996), Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo (2006) and Fireproof (2008).
            There are plenty of movies that discuss marriage on different level and perspectives. The following are the best marriage – themed movies:
            Two for the Road (1967) is about a couple fond of taking trips as they deal with the ups – and - downs of their 12 years married life. The spouse’s journey symbolically represents the sweetness and hardships on their marriage.
At the opening scene, Joanna (Audrey Hepburn) and Mark Wallace (Albert Finney) saw an unhappy newlywed couple. Both had opinions to the two young couple which reflects to the irony of their marriage. These make the audience connect with the tension between spouses. In Joanna’s perspective, the scene goes back on how she met her husband and how they got along well. As the story goes, the scene jumps to their reluctant trip together with unpredictable American tourists Howard (William Daniels), Cathy (Eleanor Bron) and their delinquent daughter Ruthie (Gabrielle Middleton). On yet another trip, the pair encounters vehicle wreckage. This is the time when Joanna announces her pregnancy. Mark never wanted a child while Joanna longs for it. In addition, they also met a wealthy couple which offers Mark a job and ultimately takes him far away from his pregnant wife. The scene focuses now on Mark’s point – of – view, while travelling alone; Mark gave in to temptation to have an illicit affair with a stranger lady and committed infidelity. Later on, Joanna also embarks in a liaison. The film’s most remarkable dialogues are when they both ask each other on what kind of married people usually do.  The film concludes in another road trip where the couple realizes the essence of their marriage and that they need to stay true to their vows as a married couple.
This is a must – see road movie. This film not only captures the breathtaking location on France but also the maturity of two people on their married life. In a very different way, the movie utilizes  jump cut style. A style only used by French New Wave directors such as Truffaut, Godard and Resnais.
Director Stanley Donen breaks away to the conventional three – act structure. Writer Frederic Raphael sensibly pens the dialogue as well as blends humor and serious aspects to his script. The editing style of this movie, on their time, is complex which more the critics should appreciate. And the last but not the least the hauntingly lyrical musical score of Henry Mancini that suits to every scene.
Audrey Hepburn proves that she is not only limited as the Hollywood romantic comedy queen but she is also a respectable actress. This movie provides her another impressive and more challenging part of her career. This is one of her memorable mature films after Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), The Children’s Hour (1961) and Charade (1963). Again, her status as a fashion icon is absolutely shown in the movie. As the decade spun, her clothes also go with the trend. Albert Finney’s portrayal is excellent as well. His comic timing matches the ethereal and loveable Hepburn. The chemistry between the two players makes audience longs for something more. Both actors are excellent.
Meanwhile, The mirror has two faces (1996) is a remake of a 1958 French movie. Barbra Streisand led the remake and took the helm. Jeff Bridges co – stars as her love interest. Supporting players are Oscar – nominee Lauren Bacall, Mimi Rogers and Pierce Brosnan. “I Finally Found Someone” is the movie theme sung by Streisand and Bryan Adams.
Rose Morgan (Barbra Streisand) is a plain, frumpy, middle – aged English literature professor, who shares a house with her vain and overbearing mother Hannah (Lauren Bacall). She got the brains in the family while her sister Claire (Mimi Rogers) got the looks. Soon as the latter prepares for her wedding to Alex (Pierce Brosnan), Rose loveless life makes her gloomy, especially since she kept her feelings toward Alex a secret.  Gregory Larkin (Jeff Bridges) teaches Mathematics at the same school as Rose, and he feels sex serves no purpose but complicates matters between men and women. He is looking for a relationship based on intellectual rather than physical. When he eavesdrops over Rose’s lecture about chaste love in literature, he’s intrigued. He asks her out and impressed by her wit and knowledge. Gregory is so taken with Rose that he proposes marriage, with the condition that it will be largely platonic and without sexual relations. The idea of spending the rest of her life as a lonely spinster living with her mother seems far worse than a marriage without passion. So, she accepts the proposal. However, Rose’s attraction to Gregory grows, and one night she puts her best night gown and attempts to seduce him, much to his annoyance and confusion. When he departs on a lengthy lecture tour, and after Hannah reassures heartbroken Rose that she was a beautiful child, Rose embarks on a crash course in self – improvement. She lets herself engage in activities like having a diet, exercise and make – over. When her husband returns, he finds a different woman waiting for him. He is too shocked to express his feelings while Rose leaves him because of the mistake accepting a passionless marriage. At the conclusion of the film, Rose realizes her change is not always to be her liking and the two finally accepts each flaws and recognize their deep affection.
“…it's rare to find a film that deals intelligently with issues of sex and love, instead of just assuming that everyone on the screen and in the audience shares the same popular culture assumptions. It's rare, too, to find such verbal characters in a movie, and listening to them talk is one of the pleasures of The Mirror Has Two Faces . . . this is a moving and challenging movie,” as Roger Ebert reviewed the film. I absolutely agree with him. It reminds me of the documentary “Biglang Liko” made by my UE Caloocan classmates that tells us there’s nothing wrong in sex as long as it’s done within marriage.
Barbra Streisand character seems associated to her earlier role such as the ugly duckling – turned – into - swan Funny Girl and a tinge of her sexually – frustrated character in contemporary The Way We Were. Well, it’s very notable that she is also the director, producer and singer of the film. The long overdue Oscar – nominee Lauren Bacall proves her screen presence again as the vain, overbearing, sardonic but a good mother. Jeff Bridges has unquestionably established himself as a character actor. In a non – Bond role, Pierce Brosnan’s characterization of the shallow Alex is enough to play his supporting character. One of the most remarkable moments of the film is when Rose laments: “Why put make – up on? It’s still me, only in color,”
The theme song “I finally found someone” is another way to market the movie. There’s nothing new about the style and story of the film. It’s just that the role of sex in marriage is thoroughly discussed in the movie.  Occasionally, The Mirror Has Two Faces is another rom – com that put its place to the genre.
Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo (2006) is a movie based on an award – winning screenplay of Mary Ann Bautista. Real – life sweethearts Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo portrayed passionate lovers that decided to marry soon after they just met. Jose Javier Reyes adapted the screenplay and directed the film. Supporting actors are Gina Pareño, Tuesday Vargas, Derek Ramsay and Soliman Cruz.
Angie (Judy Ann Santos) is a no non – sense provincial lass turned television producer and Jed (Ryan Agoncillo) is a laid – back bachelor. They decided to become lovers when they find themselves capable to enter a relationship. When Jed’s parents (Ariel Ureta and Gloria Diaz) force him to migrate to US, he does the unthinkable – he proposes to his fiancé.  Issues such as the hasty preparations of the wedding and the tension between their families ensue.
Philippine cinema had never been of late to produce its own version of marriage – themed movies. Classic exemplars are Ishmael Bernal’s Broken Marriage and Olivia Lamasan’s Hanggang Kailan Kita Mamahalin? to name a few. Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo now joins the array of these well – executed marriage – themed movies. It only differs with the comic approach, great romp of acting, memorable soundtrack and magnificent direction.
Judy Ann Santos shows her other side as an actress. She is funny portraying her character. Her real – life husband Ryan Agoncillo blends well with their comic and bittersweet scenarios. He is surprisingly a charismatic leading man on his own natural way of acting. They have made a great on – screen chemistry. Gina Pareño has ever been astonishing as a scene - stealer fishwife mother. She deserved to get the Best Supporting Actress trophy of the 2006 Metro Manila Film Festival. She managed to bring her audiences to roll as she manifested it in her earlier comedy movies such as Working Girls (1984) and Booba (2001). Moreover, her recognition the same year with her breakthrough role in Kubrador distinguishes her as one of the greatest actresses of Philippine Cinema. Gloria Diaz as the not – so – pleased mother of Ryan Agoncillo is also remarkable. Soliman Cruz’s partaking as non – pretentious promdi father of Judy Ann Santos is noteworthy. Other supporting actors rhymed together in delight. Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo definitely deserves applause and award giving bodies not only in our country but also to international film festival.
On the other hand, Fireproof (2008) is about a firefighter who is dedicated to his job but ironically never looks at his marriage on fire.
Captain Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron), a firefighter from Georgia, holds to the old firefighter’s motto “never leave your partner behind” but his relationship with his wife Catherine (Erin Bethea) is not considered in the adage. Their marriage for seven years is disintegrating due to the fact that each has its own faults. The couple always argues over career, household chores, finances and necessities. Caleb ignores Catherine’s disabled mother as she is in need of hospital equipment which the wife can’t afford and resents to her husband. Alongside, he is saving money for the boat he longs to own. Catherine also begins to show interest along a resident physician on a hospital where she works. The doctor shows affection for Catherine. Moreover, he does not even asks her civil status. Just as both parties prepare to officially dissolve their marriage, Caleb’s father John challenges his son to commit to a 40 – day test named “The Love Dare” hoping to sew up their misleading marriage. Initially, the wife is not convinced to the sincerity of her husband. She is also influenced by her colleague confusing pieces of advice. As Caleb’s eagerness to continue the test, he changes from hot – tempered to a loving husband. Later on, her wife also realizes his effort and sincerity to work on their relationship. Moreover, she discovers that Caleb pays for the hospital equipment her mother need. The couple renews their vows on the denouement.
            The movie is a direct manifesto to every married couple. The situation of Caleb and his wife, Catherine, do not differ to most married people. Marriage, as part of sanctimony, must give importance not only for the fact that two people are tied because of a contract but also it is a testimony of love to each other and a covenant. Furthermore, the laws of people and the laws of God combined to prove that two people vow to live in sickness and in health, for better or for worse.
            Fireproof sure catches the viewers’ interest even it provides multiple messages to audience. At certain points, the movie can’t distinguish the difference between superficial and in-depth. There are also unnecessary characters or superfluous subplots (such as the overconfident co – worker of Caleb, the appearance of an old lady that gives advice to Catherine’s marriage and the not – so – nosy  Caleb’s neighbor) which must be given concrete minor story or subplot or simply it’s even good to remove some of these characters in the narrative. Furthermore, Catherine’s business is not clear in the movie. Her job is ambiguous. You can’t tell if she’s just a TV host or a part – time medical worker or working on the hospital as host of a particular public affairs program. It can’t be expected to surpass or equaled other Christian movies and mainstream inspirational movies but it never forgets to give the true meaning of marriage.
            Kirk Cameron shines as the workaholic firefighter but stubborn husband who learns to forgive himself as well as rekindle the passion of his marriage through a love dare. He shares his passion in acting as he gives the message of the Lord. Erin Bethea’s acting as the distraught wife suffices to support Cameron’s performance . Writer – producer – editor – director Alex Kendrick’s efforts are not wasted. Hence, likewise to Cameron, he doesn’t selfishly promote and limits the films to a wake – up call but spread the gospel through teamwork and the testament of this movie. No doubt, the movie amassed a generous 33 million dollars at the box – office.

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