Julia

Review of ‘Will You Be My Ex?’: Julia Barretto’s fine acting redeems the film

June 21, 2023 Mario Bautista 7328 views

Julia1Julia2‘WILL You Be My Ex’ is a film about a failed relationship. It’s definitely not a date movie as it belongs to the genre of films about broken, collapsing or dying relationships that used to be the turf of Bela Padilla. There are some messy scenes, but we’ll still recommend it as it’s beautifully acted by the lead actress, Julia Barretto.

If moviegoing were as healthy as during the 60s up to the 80s, Julia could very well be the new Vilma Santos. She has so much potential in portraying flawed, damaged female characters like Ate Vi did in “Relasyon”, “Dalawang Ibon, Isang Pugad” and “Aida Macaraeg”.

Falling out of love or falling in love with the wrong person is a universal human experience. And if it’s done right on film, it can be torturous and bruising for the viewer, but also cathartic and helps in healing wounded emotions.

“Will You Be My Ex?” starts with Julia as Chris and Diego Loyzaga as Joey meeting in a bar and locking themselves up in the toilet. When Divine Aucina as Jonjie, Julia’s friend, kicks the door open and see’s them smooching, she exclaims: “Kayo na uli?”

Then the film jumps back to three years earlier. Julia is a theatre actress and Diego is an engineer. They have just finished college and are already living in. Julia learns she’s pregnant but doesn’t tell Diego about it. She loses the baby while rehearsing for a play and Diego angrily confronts her for not informing him. Their relationship ends with Julia leaving their apartment.

Three years later, they meet anew and have sex again. They keep on professing their love for each other, yet they’re relationship gets so fractured that Julia called it toxic. But it’s pretty obvious from the start that this movie will not offer the usual happy ending that romcoms have.

The film’s conceit is easily seen in the title. In the end, a lead character asks: “Will You Be My Ex?” The partner says “yes” and then they part ways, to fulfill the message of the film’s title.

We won’t go anymore to the details of how the story is delineated on screen as it will surely be a big spoiler. We just wish that we got to know more about how Julia and Diego’s love story bloomed and blossomed.

In a flashback scene, we see their meet cute sequence when Julia is dumped by her boyfriend in the rain and she ends up crying in the street, then Diego steps up with an umbrella to protect her from being totally drenched.

After that, they’re already a couple. We don’t know what exactly endeared them to each other when they seem to come from totally different backgrounds. Julia is raised by a single mom (Mickey Ferriols) who’s a free-wheeling theater actress, while Diego has prosperous, more well mannered parents.

But Julia’s exceptional handling of all her scenes really redeems the movie. Between her and Diego, she’s the one who is given a number of scenes where she really stands out.

She is both funny and pathetic in that scene where she feels remorseful after going to bed with Diego again. She asks her friend Divine Aucina (who steals a lot of scenes): “Tanga ba ako? Mistress ba ako? Ang landi ko!” But that scene where she takes an audition and tries to ape Nora Aunor in “Himala” falls flat and is more of an embarassment.

She has many splendid dramatic scenes, but the one we like the most is her last scene with Diego where she asks for final closure. We feel so much compassion for both of them as no one is really more at fault than the other. They’re just two people who just aren’t really meant to be together forever.

As for Diego, he needs to go back to the gym pronto as he has grown so big and flabby. The bulges on his tummy can be unbecoming. The film is directed by Real Florido, whose debut film, “First Ko si Third”, is a touching drama about an old woman pining for a lost romance.

Last year, he did the tragic young romance, “Habangbuhay”, for Vivamax and now, they’ve given him this new film for theatrical screening, co-produced by his own Firestarter Productions with Studio Viva. Florido is one of the promising young directors now active at the Viva stable and here’s looking forward to more of their collaborations in the future.

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