Aug 19, 2011

[Movies] Working Girls (2010)

Working Girls (2010In 2010, Eugene Domingo managed to participate to varying degrees in six different feature films. I thought it might be an interesting adventure to try to watch as many of these movies as possible and see if I'd survive the experience given that I don't watch many local movies at all. While I don't have copies of all six movies just yet, I have managed to watch two of them plus her more successful movie that came out the year before.

That count includes this movie, which may be the movie that has officially broken me and for now has stopped me in this mad quest of watching so many local movies one after the other. While I maintain my respect for Eugene Domingo as an actress and as an individual, my disdain for the majority of our local film industry, especially when it comes to the hackneyed writers who put these things together continues to grow. Until we truly set the bar higher for ourselves and try to produce truly original and innovative work, then this industry will never get anywhere.

If anything, while I could practically feel the liquefied remnants of my brain starting to trickle out my ears less than halfway through the movie, I do hope Eugene was paid well for her efforts. Making this many movies in a single year had to be a bit of a windfall beyond it being quite the achievement in terms of time management and schedule juggling. I just wish more writers, directors and producers come up with work more worthy of her diverse talents and unique comedic stylings.

Working Girls is actually a remake of a 1984 Filipino comedy movie of the same name. This movie was written and directed by Jose Javier Reyes together with Amado Lacuesta. They meant for this to be an update of the Ishmael Bernal original - so you could say that it's either a sequel or a loose remake.

The movie features a number of different storylines, each focused on a different type of woman and the power she has over her own life, or something like that. We have Paula (Eugene Doming), who makes a living selling knock-off designer bags in order to continue to put her sons through private school. Despite the strain this puts on their finances as a family with the father being unemployed, she pushes on in order to give them a better future. We have call center agent Ada (Jennlyn Mercado), who is a single mother who is still trying to finish school. Thus she juggles her job, her education and her child on a daily basis.

Ruffa Gutierrez, Filipino actressImage via WikipediaHer friend and fellow agent Tobz (Carlo Aquino) is having with his aspiring movie star girlfriend Wendy (Christine Reyes). There's also Marilou (Ruffa Gutierrez), the widow of a successful CEO who now struggles with the fact that most of the commercial empire went to Amanda (Cherie Gil), her dead husband's daughter from another marriage. And Amanda's daughter Dara (Bianca King) is now back in the country after graduating from Berkley as she tries to make a career for herself as a journalist. Oh, and I almost forgot Theresa (Iza Calzado), a nurse who also had her own little love story.

Normally I can be pretty succinct when it comes to writing a 2-3 paragraph synopsis of the movie being reviewed. But as you cans see above, it's taken me two paragraphs just to introduce all the characters. And these aren't a mix of main and secondary characters. Somehow they're all meant to be main characters with stories we needed to follow.

And that's my first and probably biggest problem with the movie. The folks behind it were pretty ambitious in trying to juggle so many different plot threads all at once, which is laudable. However they failed miserably in this goal and thus it just became one very confused mess of a movie. It probably didn't help that I couldn't really tell some of the girls apart due to my lack of familiarity with local actresses plus how similarly they all act (if you can call it that) while on screen. The movie had just too much going on all over the place and it was hard to keep up in order to follow the story fully. had it not been for the internet, I wouldn't have been able to write that synopsis with any degree of accuracy!

And of course given this convoluted a plot, character development was abyssal and many of them had to rely on stereotypes to make themselves felt. Thus Eugene was almost always shouting irrationally while Ruffa had to obsess about how little she had left to her as a former beauty queen but now struggling CEO. It was all such a horrible mess that I can't imagine what the writers were thinking when they put this together or what the director's supposed vision was as he set about filming this movie. Whatever it was, the only message I got was confusion or something along those lines.

I can't even cite moments that made me especially amused or entertained. At one point Rafael Rosell was in the movie and not even that was enough to get me interested in what was going on. It felt like a shell game where the whole time I was trying to figure out where the pea was as the hollow actresses on screen moved about and took new places and positions just to spite my efforts.

I'm definitely taking a breather from this venture. I'm better off sticking to more established movies made in other markets or just waiting for the truly notable local films that manage to get my attention. My love for Eugene Domingo alone won't sustain me in this quest to watch all her movies.

Working Girls isn't just a remake that never should have been made - it's a movie that never should have been conceived. Still, it's too late to do anything about it now. If anything, I'll toss this movie half of a meager attempt to somehow present some greater story about the role of women in Philippine society out of a possible 5.

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