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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

‘The Bride and the Lover’ hard to pin down

IT ISN’T everyday that I encounter a movie that features a bizarre love triangle, two aborted weddings and a happy ending. It's like discovering a new species of animal that is evolutionarily dysfunctional.

Regal Films' "The Bride and the Lover" has been fancifully described as "a highly-charged erotic-drama," but I don't think that doesn't quite capture what the movie is all about. Sure, there are bedroom scenes galore, but they are more gratuitous than erotic. Drama? I did not discern either passion or pathos in the actors, who are a few notches above wooden telenovela characters.

Let us dissect this rare animal to find out its genealogy.

Vivian (Lovi Poe) is the CEO of a leading land development conglomerate. She's vivacious, aggressive and a bit screwy. In the middle of her grand wedding (she rides a gondola to church!) to Philip (Paulo Avelino), she shocks everyone by saying "I don't" and displaying photos of Philip in various compromising situations with her best friend, Sheila (Jennylyn Mercado). Then she charges out of the church with her bodyguards in tow.

The runaway bride flies off to Spain or some exotic hideaway supposedly for serious soul-searching. She returns with a fresh outlook in life and a container full of goods for a sprawling house where she plans to settle down in style.

While Vivian is away, Philip breaks a leg in an accident and Sheila is kind enough to nurse him back to his feet. Once Philip is fit again, the two waste no time indulging in sexual exercises. Soon they graduate from being just bed partners to actual sweethearts.

Vivian meanwhile has declared herself to be a changed woman, and is willing to try her luck with other men. But her claws spring out when she learns that Sheila and Philip are exclusively dating.

She schemes to repossess Philip and at the same time exact vengeance on Sheila. Vivian lures him into her chambers where they rekindle old fires.

Completely clueless about Vivian's plot, Sheila proposes to Philip, who grudgingly accepts only if Sheila keeps their engagement under wraps for the moment.

But Sheila can't keep the secret for long, and breaks the news at, of all occasions, the launching of Vivian's newest real estate project. She also asks Vivian to be her maid of honor.

So we have a second wedding which promptly turns into another fiasco, as Vivian and Sheila square off in a catfight as bruising as a WWE main event. In the middle of it all is Philip, the twice-spurned groom, proclaiming he is not worthy of all that display of female ferocity.

So how can there be a happy ending after all this sex, shame and scandal?

Hey, this is a Regal movie, and Mother Lily is a pushover for happy endings.

What I can tell you is that there is a third wedding, two years later, but this time it transpires without a hitch.

With "The Bride and the Lover," Regal hopes to cash in on the highly successful love-triangle formula that catapulted "No Other Woman" to box-office nirvana.

Despite struggling with an untenable story, Director Joel Lamangan manages to instill a semblance of lucidity to the film. Had it not been for Lamangan, "The Bride and the Lover" would have nosedived right in the first reel.

The dialogue suffers from an overload of profanities, although there are some witty lines ("I'll strangle her with my Hermes scarf. Ang mahal ng Hermes ah!" Vivian screeches).

Lovi Poe and Jennylyn Mercado hold up well as power women and both have generous displays of body parts, not to mention impressive wardrobes. Paulo Avelino is more boy toy than hunk, and gets slapped around a lot by his co-stars.

Hayden Kho provides some light moments as Lovi's bodyguard who has a soft spot for men.
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