Review: The Break-up Playlist

Cast: Piolo Pascual, Sarah Geronimo, Rio Locsin, Dennis Padilla, Maris Racal, Anna Luna, Teddy Corpuz, Jet Pangan, Gabby Alipe, etc

Director: Dan Villegas; Writer: Antoinette Jadaone; Songs: Yeng Constantino, etc

More than having two undeniably people-puller stars in the person of Sarah Geronimo and Piolo Pascual, the movie “The Break-up Playlist” showcases everything that is fine and simple and intricate about Filipino artistry. Sarah G. has been a singer all her life that I almost wonder why they thought of starring her in a musical, whose very soul and prose is music and artistry, only now. And of course, Piolo Pascual, more than the Filipinos Papa P (yeah, are you kidding? That guy is a walking sex appeal), is believable in his portrayal of the angsty, egotistical, romantic, frustrated, appealing alternative rock star.

At the heart of the movie is a simple love story, of two hearts brought together, and separated by, music. But such love story is made more poignant and more significant by carefully chosen soul songs at the foreground and finesse cinematic storytelling at the background.

“Someday, makikita natin ang album natin dyan.”

It starts when everything is threatening to fall apart. Gino (Piolo Pascual) and Trixie (Sarah Geronimo) is having a heated argument, on the verge of breaking up. And Gino’s first music has been miserable.

It is a failed relationship that gives birth to a pragmatic albeit more matured Trixie of 2015.

But it hasn’t always been like that. Back then, when Gio (by then already a established singer) stumbled upon the raw and strong voice of Trixie, there is an instant attraction. Here is a shy and timid girl, who has an extraordinary voice.

However, like everything that defines artistic pursuits, for Trixie it is a choice between passion and practical considerations. Should Trixie continue pursuing what enlivens her, no matter how fickle it is, and risk the disapproval of her parents and the security of her future? Should she give it up for a law degree and a relatively stable life?

The presence of Gnio, tantalizing her with the palpitating excitement of music and his love, ultimately decided her fate. She chooses music, and him, and never looked back since.

Early on, we see the two things that catapulted the duo into fame; Trixie’s ability to give up one to choose what makes her truly happy and Gino’s almost obsessive desire to prove himself. However, these qualities are double-edged swords.

“Gio, girlfriend mo ako. Hindi mo ako kakompetensiya.”

And when everything started to look great, (they have an album & been in a great relationship) little cracks started to emerge. Trixie’s popularity started to eclipse Gino’s, rendering his effort almost for naught. What used to be a shared stage, started becoming a battlefield. At least for Gino.

It’s easy to hate Gino, ego is his fatal flaw. However, it’s never solely his fault. It’s the way the society has shaped him, or how he allowed the society to shape him. Since time immemorial, humans have to compete for resources, for food, for girls, etc. In the modern jungle, Gino has to compete in order to gain foothold and respect as a musician.

Switching that compete mode off is quite difficult. It proved tragic because he directed it to the person he should have been loving, not competing against with.

And Trixie, because this too is her fatal flaw, gives up way too easily; on their music, on their love.

“Kung hindi ako nanghihingi ng tulong, ibig sabihin kaya ko. Kinaya ko. Tatlong taon na.”

Three years after, the ex-lovers are now different; changed by the pain that brought them apart. But it is pain that gives birth to two different music, Trixie’s “Nagsimula sa Puso” and Gino’s “Patawarin”. These songs each made manifest the pains and thoughts of the artists who authored them, transformed into a poignant works of art that echo the cries of the world (or at least of lovers na nakakarelate).

And again it’s music that brought them together; after three years when forced to reunite.

But their life apart teaches them a lot. It teaches Trixie that she’s a strong woman, that she can live even without Gino. But she wants him nonetheless. This time, it is safer to love because she’s more secure in herself and in her love. Gino, on the other hand, learns he cannot live without Trixie. And so he won’t let her go ever again.

The only thing that I felt rushed is the movie’s arrival to the “happy ending”. The resolution of Gino and Trixie’s problem, after a few days, felt unnatural. Given the movie’s reluctance to succumb to commercial formula, the emphasis on the soul over and above the technical, I would have been fairly satisfied with them exchanging smiles, or maybe holding hands, and that terrific concert at the end. That would have been more natural, the tease of a possible (very possible) good future for the two of them, would have been a better ending.

No review would ever come close to the delight of watching the movie. So go and catch “The Break-up Playlist” in theaters nationwide, still showing! 🙂

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