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By Kimiyo Meadows

Always Be My Maybe offers some well-executed variety on the formulaic Pinoy romcom.

Gerald Anderson and Arci Muñoz play Jake and Tintin respectively, two yuppies dealing with bad breakups who quickly become friends.  They bond over rants about their exes and failed attempts at trying to set each other up with new people.  Over the course of the film, the romantic and sexual tension between them builds until they must decide whether they’re hanging out, hooking up, or pursuing a serious relationship.

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There are a couple of factors that make Jake and Tintin a believable and likable tandem.  Arci gives a killer performance as a female lead who, unlike many before her, can usually maintain her composure when faced with a guy she is interested in.  Her post-breakup meltdown is pretty bad, but she doesn’t make every kilig or stressed out moment a fit of screaming and ugly crying.  Jake is quickly established as a rich playboy but an honest, self-aware one.  He has a heart of gold that doesn’t need to be hidden under a thick layer of cockiness and self-indulgence.

As a pair, before anything else, they work well as friends.  They are candid and frank with each other, whether it’s about building up the other’s confidence or acknowledging the harsh reality that they both had unrealistic expectations in their past romances.  As they become closer and more comfortable with each other, they also experience some personal growth which makes it easier for them to put their past mistakes in perspective.  It’s not an instant, convenient “I had a conversation with someone attractive and now I’m a completely new person.” It’s a subtle but ultimately meaningful development.  Jake and Tintin don’t just find each other sexy.  They listen to, comfort, and support each other in the way that friends should.

Here’s one thing I absolutely love about the rest of the characters in the film: The people who exist for comedic relief are exactly that.  They are funny because of their antics and punchlines.  This is something many local romcoms and comedies in general are guilty of: when it comes to comedic relief, instead of the characters telling the jokes, they themselves are the brunt of the joke.  Often, the cheap, offensive rationale comes out to “It’s funny because he’s gay and gay men are loud and overly sensitive” or “It’s funny because this girl is fat and fat people aren’t considered traditionally attractive.”  The supporting characters in Always Be My Maybe are smart, snarky, and have a real connection with the two leads.

Always Be My Maybe tugs at the heartstrings and doesn’t take itself too seriously.  If you’re tired of pretentious hugot culture and the worn-out obsession with relationships lasting forever, here’s a feel-good film that will remind you of the side of dating that is, plain and simple, having fun with someone who just “gets” you.  (Obligatory: Char!)

4 stars

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