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‘Mary, Marry Me’: Capitalizing on Sisters’ Control Dramas

I was thrilled to see how the Gonzaga sisters—Toni and Alex do their stint together on the silver screen via this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) 2018 entry—Mary, Marry Me. This isn’t the first time that the public would see how the two women interact with each other outside of Pinoy Big Brother House. They had a reality show titled Team Gonzaga in 2014, which was viewed via the now-defunct ABS-CBNmobile platform.

Unlike that mobile show, in the film, the Gonzagas still assumed the roles of sisters. The treatment though is comedy-drama focused on the rivalry of two sisters—Mary Jane (Toni) and Mary Anne (Alex). There’s this saying that—sisters is probably the most competitive relationship in the family, but when they become mature individuals—the relationship between sisters becomes deeper and stronger.

At least, that’s the way I personally see how the film attempted to convey its message.

Love for a Sister versus a Stormy Weather.

Such story is not new. In 2005, a film with an almost similar theme titled In Her Shoes, surfaced and was based on a novel of the same title by (one of my favorites) romance novelist Jennifer Weiner. The said American movie starred Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette, and Shirley MacLaine.

Unlike, the foreign film, this local production capitalizes on the two sisters’ controlled dramas. During one stormy night, when they both learned that their parents passed away and left them as orphans—the older sister Mary Jane made a promise to take care and protect her younger sister Mary Anne.

That promise propelled the older sister to strive harder, but her best aren’t good enough to provide a better future for them both. She had to make a choice and she had to give away her younger sister to her aunt in the US. My only problem in the story is that, both parents died and why were these two girls (minors) were allowed to live on their own without the care and guidance of DSWD?

To cut the story short, the two sisters got separated.

But after a long time, Mary Anne came back from abroad with her fiancé—Pete (Sam Milby). The rivalry between the two sisters began.

Sibling Rivalry surfaced anew.

What I can vividly recall back in the late 80s, there was this drama flick titled—Nagbabagang Luha that was directed by the late multi-awarded filmmaker Ishmael Bernal. It showed a conflict between two sisters Maita (Lorna Tolentino) and Cielo (Alice Dixson) fighting for the attention of one guy named Alex (Gabby Concepcion).

Don’t worry—this Ten17P and TinCan production is not heavy on drama, but it has its shares of dramatic moments between the two sisters; but nothing that involves on child custody and adultery. The RC delos Reyes flick is way lighter.

Though the film succeeded in presenting the sisters’ relationship (since they were separated for the longest time and distance)—the audience would take a hint that both have a grown and nurtured a ‘grudge’ toward each other. But they seemed to be okay; even if the younger sister is marrying the ex-boyfriend of her older sister.

Personally, at the airport, the tension between the two sisters could already have been intense, but the story chose to present otherwise. Maybe because the Gonzagas are known to be wacky sisters, thus, the journey was created that way. In this particular part of the film, the writer failed to dwell on the struggles of both sisters. Yes, there were times that their ‘hatred’ for each other have surfaced once in a while, but never reached to the point that I have to root for one of them.

Mary Jane’s messianic attitude cost her shot to marrying the man of her life and Mary Anne’s victim attitude is getting all the sympathy; to her advantage. Such conflict between the two women could have been intense and have strengthened both characters and their reason for being.

Through Thick and Thin or Sick and Sin?

The loose ends that needed some tying up were rushed. For me, after that confrontation scene between the two sisters and the groom-to-be could have been the trigger point to worsen the situation even the more.

Well, the film’s premise is to capitalize on the sisterly love between Mary Jane and Mary Anne. Who can argue with that? I assume that’s how they just wanted it to be; at least not a far cry from being sisters in real life and not the rival characters for a guy like Pete.

Between Toni and Alex, the older Gonzaga still has it. Though not intense as her previous characters back then, she still deserves a nomination. The chemistry between Toni and Sam is still there and the awkwardness between them as ex-lovers working together for a wedding was genuine.

But my only worry is the handling of some scenes. There were times that I almost jolted from my seat because of some engaging scenes, but when humor was injected—it defeated the purpose of driving some or at least a particular point.

I was actually looking for a scene that would really tug my heart, like that of the wedding scene from the film In Her Shoes.

Watching the film is just like watching the dynamics of how the two Gonzaga sisters act in real-life. It was just an extension of their pledge for each other—through thick and thin or sick and sin.

Mary Jane and Mary Anne are two women having their ‘control dramas’ control them. The older sister is a combination of ‘aloof control drama’ and ‘interrogator control drama’ while the younger sister is a combination of a ‘poor me control drama’ and ‘intimidator control drama’.

The story has somehow managed to point that none of the control dramas that the Lagman sisters chose to have as their unconscious strategies to win sympathies or suck energies from people is good. Only then, when one chooses to see from the space of love that these control dramas are conquered and extinguished.

Toni and Alex were effortless as sisters. Catch them in their latest project together as the film is still showing in cinemas during the MMFF 2018 run.


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