‘Alone/Together’ review — Return to silent glory

LizQuen graduates in Antoinette Jadaone’s drama about the pressures of the modern age.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This review first appeared on Unreel on February 15, 2019. It’s being republished as part of the upkeep of our writing archive.

The latest Jadaone romance removes LizQuen’s famed ‘teleserye‘ royalty. It transports them into a timely scenario of the modern-day yuppie — a coming-of-age not only for its stars but also for their maturing fan base. But the film is a Valentine’s treat even for non-fans, too.

Coming from the ambiguous publicity of Alone/Together, it clearly speaks to the university circuit and is intriguing enough to make a resounding “What happened?”. And yet the film also offers a notable feat for the tired romance genre: exploring deeper grounds of the real world, in contrast to the idealism of university education. Although Alone/Together doesn’t quite hit the educated cornerstone of mature romance films (a distinction that belongs to Sid & Aya: Not a Love Story and Jadaone’s own Never Not Love You), it is still effective in speaking to a generation of millennials graduating into the pressures of the modern age. And if it turns out to be a success, the long-trending cheesy romcom can take its deserved rest from the cinemas… at least before the Jadaone films grow tired themselves.

But that’s not to say Alone/Together survived a total eclipse from its LizQuen predecessors. At times, the film is boggled by the excessive use of sappy dialogue and unnecessary tears. It’s also not devoid of cliched romantic gestures. For the seasoned cineaste, its momentous marvels must be located within the mush. Take, for instance, the scene where Liza’s dramatic monologue of failures is slapped back into place with a dialogue-free tracking shot passing through a multitude of cries within a crowded ER. It also has its interesting moments of homage to Juan Luna, the Eraserheads, and UP’s homegrown activism, with the film’s share of radical come-ons. And it’s pretty much a delight to see Soberano’s most convincing turn as a leading actress and the tearjerker scenes of an abandoned Enriquez scratching his eyes like a kid.

The film doesn’t shy away from the fact that it is all about returning to one’s roots – the arts. Since Tadhana, Jadaone seems to imply a fetish for galleries and museums. But unlike her iconic rom-com, the ‘hugot‘ lines we came to gobble in the first few features of this witty dialogist must take a backseat to the subtlety of her visual aesthetics. In some ways, the best parts of this film seem like a return to the silent glories of the form itself. And if this coming back isn’t enough, let’s go to Jadaone’s invisible supporting player, Juan Luna. His Spoliarium won first place in the 1884 Spanish exposition and made rounds in Madrid, showcasing an ‘indio‘ talent superior to his colonizers. Despite its grandeur, it was brought to the Philippines to be exhibited before the very eyes of Luna’s fellowmen. Also a coming back, so to speak.

Jadaone’s subtle intertext speaks volumes to the woes of the petit-bourgeois millennial, coming to terms with the commodification of her skills, taking advantage of her energies and doubts, and ending up with a limited but an almost radical move of serving her people via the very nature of returning to one’s roots. That alone makes Alone/Together‘s character-driven romance worth watching.


Alone/Together

2019 | Romance, Drama | dir. Antoinette Jadaone

Christine an Art Studies major student at University of the Philippines Diliman a smart and very ambitious who is in a relationship with a Biology student at University of Santo Tomas, Raf a very total opposite character of Christine.

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