So the two meet while debating—quite lengthily and unfunnily—Juan Luna’s/Eraserheads’ painting/song Spoliarium/Spolarium.
The girl, Tin (Liza Soberano), is a UP student enraptured by the arts and with a crystal-clear dream of working at The Met. Meanwhile, the only thing we know about the boy, Raf (Enrique Gil), is he’s smitten by the pretty Art Studies student and that he’s a diehard Eheads fan.
First, they are bonding over kwek-kwek/juvenile ambitions, the next thing you know, Tin is breaking up with Raf for an ubelievable reason. The first act is rushed. You haven’t fallen in love yet and already they are fighting/talking about marriage/breaking up.
Abruptly skip to five years later and the two become cussing adults in their twenties. Sadly, Tin/Tita Pretty is not living her dream. Meanwhile, Raf is a hotshot hero-doctor (doing a Doogie Howser) with ill-fitting costume-y short-sleeved white uniform. HE is living his dream. Well, wait, actually, it is not his dream. It was Tin who instructed him to become a doctor. “Eh kung lawyer, mahal? O kaya doctor? Ako museum director, ikaw doktor,” she states. “Yun ba talaga ang gusto mo, mahal?” asks the crazy in-love Raf.
I dislike these people, blathering about correct spellings and nothingness, breaking up with no reason and not getting back together when there is reason to. The fickle-minded Tin seems to be only capable of getting into a relationship if both she and her guy are living her exact dreams for the both of them at the exact same time. That is not called idealistic. That is called cuckoo. These characters don’t feel like real human beings.
The plot occasionally separates the two for long periods of time. But you don’t feel the absence, or the stretch of time. It’s as if they just saw each other five minutes ago instead of five years ago. Tin only looks more polished as time goes by. Tita Pretty, indeed.
The error of this whole dull affair is uninspired writing from writer/director Antoinette Jadaone— a major letdown after her rousing, heartfelt Never Not Love You (Nadine Lustre/James Reid). Alone/Together is a major setback, a love story artificially manufactured, devoid of real conflict. Script that doesn’t even know its own characters, what they want, or why they’re even bothering to be in the same breathing space. A story that is both overthought and crowded with Tagalog love-story clichés.
Wasted budget and permit filming in New York, The Met, Guggenheim, and wasted performance by Soberano, with dialogue alternating between hair-raising corny (“So let me hold your hand and let us be the lovers we’re supposed to be”) and bizarre (“Hindi ito ang past, present, or future! Ito na yun!”).
As young adults, Tin has an unhealthy preoccupation with what-ifs, while Raf is the type of guy that upon hearing his unborn child’s heartbeat poetically equates it to hearing it say Daddy/Papa. And he describes it in a way that is so persuasive, how a heartbeat calls out to him “Papa! Papa!” that you fear he has suffered a mild mental breakdown from all the stress of talking to someone capricious like Tin.
In addition to an inscrutably bad romance, Alone/Together has a side commentary on homegrown Filipino artists, a shoddy emphasis on life surprising you with failure. But the biggest failure of the film is falling into voice-over narration at the end. This movie is plain confused. Even the title is confused: Alone/Together.
Jasmine Curtis-Smith’s role as the mandatory new girlfriend is just to smile/look pained. Meanwhile, Luis/Adrian Alandy, as Tin’s current beau (and boss) Greg, is the only sound character here, even if he’s the stereotypical “bad guy” that will never become a serious threat to the onscreen LizQuen.
Without any real conflict, with lines that hardly make any sense/painfully corny, it’s difficult to feel anything in this movie other than befuddlement/deep annoyance. While watching this movie, all I wanted was to walk out/sleep. But I persevered until the end credits.
Soberano’s top-notch nuanced performance saves the movie from getting a zero rating from me.
0.5 out of 5 stars
Still showing in Philippine cinemas
About the reviewer: Stephanie Mayo writes film reviews for the Daily Tribune. Her column ‘Film Check’ appears every Friday.