Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What I Saw: No Other Woman

What I Saw: No Other Woman

A husband, a wife and a mistress. We’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again. But what made No Other Woman stand out for me is the recognition that we’ve seen it before and will see it again.

Most American films of this genre rely not so much upon the simple premise that all men are pigs, but rather upon a less realistic premise: the woman believes that her man is different, and is then crushed to find out that he’s not. This leads to a strange cultural circularity: each extra-marital affair is treated as a strange anomaly, common enough to brand an entire gender as pigs, yet rare enough to believe that one’s own relationship will be spared. We may have seen it before, but we don’t really believe that it could happen to us.

No Other Woman portrays a different cultural reality. Rather than some strange failure of monogamy, extra-marital affairs are recognized as generational challenges. Which means both that you can ask your mother for advice on handling the situation, and that each generation of women has the opportunity to respond to the challenge in new ways.

Anne Curtis plays the other woman who refuses to fall into the stereotypical mistress role (thus the title “No Other Woman”). She is independent (indeed, it turns out that hunk Derek Ramsay is dependent upon her for his employment), and goes into the no strings attached relationship with eyes open, only to fall in love. Cristine Reyes plays the wife who isn’t going to simply leave her husband or sit back while the affair happens right under her nose. Instead she fights for her husband with cunning, wit and force. The movie portrays each character realistically, refusing to demonize any of them, and the scenes where the two women confront each other are the best of the film.

A note to viewers who don’t speak Tagalog: the version of the film that I saw did not include subtitles, which meant that I missed out on some of the witty dialogue, particularly during the high-stakes dinner and pool scenes. However, the plot is a simple one and the film lapses into English often enough that I was able to follow along rather nicely.

Oscar Chances:

While No Other Woman has the honor of currently being the highest grossing Filipino film of all time, it was not submitted to the Oscars. That honor will go instead to Marlon Rivera’s Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank (The Woman In The Septic Tank.)

My Lamb Score: 2 1/2 out of 5 Lambs
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