DISCLAIMER: I tried my best not to mention spoilers but forgive me if I hinted on some stuff. :D This is also my first ever legit movie review (not counting the ones I did for film class haha) so bear with me. Just think of this as a fan’s personal critique :))
As an avid KimXi fan, it’s a no-brainer that I was very excited to catch ‘Bride for Rent’ in the cinemas. Honestly, my only initial expectations for this movie was that it will be very kilig and funny, just like most local romantic comedies. But post-premiere night tweets and comments made me expect for more. Also, knowing that Direk Mae Cruz was the director (and I loved 'Shes’s the One’) and Ms. Carmi was in charge of creatives (AshLloyd movies yo), I assumed there will be more to this movie than laughs and kilig and that this will be more enjoyable than 'Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo’. BHKCNCM was a great and fun movie, but ‘Bride for Rent’ is clearly sooo much better than the former in terms of entertainment value and story. They really leveled up with this one. :)
When you watch the trailer, you’ll get the feeling that you know how the story will flow from start to end. Rocco hired Rocky to pose as his wife to get money, they will struggle as a couple with a few laughs and kilig moments from time to time, fall in love, realize they have fallen for each other for real, deal with major conflict and make up though a corny reconciliation and eventually end up together. And you might say, “Ugh. Same old same old romcom movie”. But if you just give this movie a chance, you will be pleasantly surprised. I know I was. Yes, its premise is very familiar and it’s given that they will be the endgame but the entire journey that this film will make you go though will give you a fresh, new and worthwhile experience. And trust me, I have seen almost every Pinoy romcom there is and I guarantee that BFR will stand out if placed beside others.
Of course, expect to see the usual staples in Star Cinema films - the quirky barkada, the lovable family members, the that-explains-why part, the “music video” segment, the LOL scenes, the quotable quotes, the punchlines, etc. These are all things I was looking forward to. Apart from Rocky and Rocky, Lala is also one character you are bound to love. Another thing I like here is that the conflicts were established without any villains (even the slightest hint of typical kontrabidas), third parties, etc. It was just Rocky, Rocco and the circumstances surrounding them, the issues and secrets that were unfolding as the movie progresses.
“Isn’t it amazing? Isn’t it surprising? Isn’t it?” - Rocky
The performance of the actors is also something to look out for. Although I’m a huge Xian fan, I admit that there were times before when I was a bit uncomfortable watching him cry on-screen. But in this film, I can safely say that he is definitely a REVELATION like what others were saying. His crying scenes, scene with Sir Tirso, piano scene are my favorites. Yes, there’s still lots of room for improvement but he’s on his way to becoming a legit dramatic actor. So proud and happy that he’s finally being recognized for something other than being the handsome and charming chinito that he is.
Kim, on the other hand, delivered very well as expected. I am glad that she finally found her place as a “Rom-Com Princess”. You will appreciate her comic timing, her charisma, her ability cry and make it look so freaking easy and her chemistry with Xian (of course). KimXi’s appeal and magic contributed greatly to this film’s success and that was well-highlighted. They undoubtedly bring out the best in each other. But, there is so much more to this movie than just KimXi’s kilig factor. Prepare for moments that will make you laugh, brim with kilig, and will tug your heart and break you (in a good and meaningful way).
I also love how they incorporated a sense of authenticity to the film through the AVPs. It was very smart and really gave the movie a kind of authority. I was really not expecting to cry and I rarely cry in movies like this. Usually, films that make me shed tears are those where someone dies tragically (A Walk to Remember), about pet loyalty (Hachiko) or those involving fictional characters (Toy Story 2 & 3). But, something about this movie just pierced through my soul and I found myself crying in the theater (which I hate doing lol).
Even after leaving the cinema, you will feel the sincerity of the movie. I know in my heart that this movie did not just hard-sell me a love team, bombarded me with tons of kilig and funny moments and merely offered me almost 2 hours of escape from reality. Rather, it aimed for something simple yet very meaningful - that is to present you a familiar topic and make that topic relevant to you regardless of your status (single, married, MOMOLing, it’s complicated, etc) and regardless of your romantic background (NBSB, broken-hearted, man-hater, etc). I am personally quite inexperienced when it comes to love and relationships but this movie taught me a lot of things, things I will bring with me and will guide me in my future decisions.
“May puso yung pelikula”. Many films would claim this but you’ll feel it if it’s really true and not just a marketing ploy. BFR remained true to its promotional plugs and delivered more than what the public expected. The heart of this movie is to make you believe in LOVE, in MARRIAGE, in COMMITMENT and in FOREVER. I have always believed in these things especially commitment but this film strengthened my beliefs and principles about relationships. Given that you’re still not convinced about converting to a commitment advocate, the least that this movie would do is go into your thoughts and make you emotionally involved in the process even if not permanently. It will make you think of and appreciate many things.
At the same time, this film shares an important lesson about change and forgiveness. You may be wounded by your past or by particular circumstances but that doesn’t mean you have to be broken forever. There is still hope and you can always choose to become a better person and have a better life. :) My only negative comments are that there was a certain scene that’s quite similar to a scene in BHKCNCM. I don’t know if it was intentional but a different setting or situation would’ve been more suitable. And, I guess having a memorable cameo appearance would’ve also been a good touch. There were also moments when some punchlines or supposedly funny dialogues did not make me laugh or were out-of-place and probably some mushy scenes were too cheesy for others haha (but I fully appreciate them lol) and the element of predictability was strong on some parts. Lastly, the road to reconciliation was a bit rushed. A serious and heartfelt talk scene between Rocco and Rocky could have been added and perhaps a short confrontation scene too with his dad? But, the minimal flaws are overshadowed by its strengths and great impact.
I believe the best movies are the ones that present essential elements in a balanced manner and in a way that people can relate to. The kilig, the humor, the drama and the injecting of values are all well-balanced and well-presented here. What good is an artistic film or well-thought story if people cannot connect with it right? 'Bride for Rent’ managed to be both entertaining and relevant without neglecting good storytelling. You don’t go and say, “Gah it was all too mushy and corny” or “Gah it was too hard to swallow”. As Claudine Barretto’s character said in an old flick,“Parang chewing gum na masarap nguyain”. This is a movie that you will savor and wouldn’t want to spit out until it ends. You would probably even want to experience the whole thing again.
To those who are allergic to or traumatized by commitment, to married couples who feel like they’re losing that loving feeling, to those who don’t believe forever is possible.. I strongly suggest you watch this movie. As I mentioned earlier, it might not drastically change your mind about certain issues, but it will make you realize a lot of important things in life and in love. :) For those who already believe in forever or those who are currently in a happy relationship, watch this still and be reminded of why love can last a lifetime. Plus, you’ll get to laugh and feel all giddy too. :) Seriously guys, this movie has a beautiful message. It’s a shame if you won’t go and see it.
Congratulations and good job to the whole team! Kim, Xian, Direk Mae, Ms. Carmi, all the supporting cast members, crew, etc. This is definitely one of my favorite Pinoy rom-coms! And, I’m not just saying that because of Kim and Xian. :))
“Forever may not be perfect, but it’s possible.”