In The Name of Love

On its fourth week in the theatres, “In the Name of Love”, even as it pays homage to archetypal love and everything after, as it is the 18th anniversary film of Star Cinema, still reveals a cavernous ambience thanks to its sombre actors who managed to esteem their characters to slightly obliterate its disappointingly parched plot. People came and watched it and, well, raved about it because, as we all know, local commercial movies in the Philippines would have to be dramatic notwithstanding of its tragic or comedic indication or it won’t be swarmed. The glossiness of the film comes in full circle and director Olivia M. Lamasan makes sure the grim angles is replaced by her keen eye on cinematic surprises such as Japan’s scenic Mount Fuji and Angel Locsin’s realistic pole dancing routines. Still, it was a great comeback vehicle for both Angel Locsin and Aga Muhlach – an unusual pairing at best but somehow both pulls it together. Apparently, the moviegoers fell for it as much as I did. In a sense. What happens is, seven years ago, Emman Toledo (Aga Muhlach) is ready to go back to the Philippines after making a living in Japan for a few years. Emman makes a bad move on his home trip as he decides to be a cash mule to the Yakuza. He was to carry illegal money out of the country into the Philippines. Unfortunately, the authorities are able to find the money in Emman’s belongings and he is sent to jail. Seven years later, Emman is now back in the Philippines struggling but he is able to open his own dance studio. It is also election time and Dylan Evelino (Jake Cuence) is running for vice mayor in Emman’s city – a decision made by his corrupt father. Dylan is also set to marry his girlfriend, Mercedes Fernandez (Angel Locsin). When Emman becomes the dance instructor of Mercedes, both reveal that they have a dark yet obsessive past together that sets the twist to its intriguing ensemble. “In the Name of Love” feels like a film taken out of a telenovela plot and yet, in a sense, it is tolerable. It actually tickled the audience who are so used to the ruckus of a telenovela stratagem. “In the Name of Love” defies all odds as it presents the viewers a style rarely seen in local cinemas and a veteran actor who decided to just carry the whole film in his shoulders. This is of course Aga Muhlach and his soon-to-be-remembered plot reveal scene with Angel Locsin. The way Aga Muhlach acted was unbelievably brilliant. It literally had audiences’ jaws dropping straight to the floor. He was so unadulterated with his emotions, his swagger and tension that we wouldn’t be surprised if all those things actually happened to him. Angel Locsin was effective and lovable even in an anti-thesis character and has shown depth in her portrayal of Mercedes seven years apart. What surprised me was Jake Cuenca. I’ve always thought he was a so-and-so actor who was polished by a weekly acting workshop but in his depiction of Dylan and his multifaceted character, Cuenca went beyond expectations and showed ingenuity. The movie was good, particularly with its brave editing except for the political sub-plots and the fairly contrived the ending that is a blemish in the wholeness of a shadowy, almost wretched but handsome love story. Despite of it all, “In the Name of Love” is one the best Philippine movies to come out this year. Well, so far. Watch it.

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