Metro Manila Film Festival veterans Derek Ramsay and Jennylyn Mercado return to the big screen this year with All of You, a heartfelt and gripping romance film. The film captures a realistic portrayal of the highs and lows of modern day relationships; there’s love and sex, fighting and tears, all within the looming conflicts of career and commitment. It follows three years after 2014’s award-winning MMFF entry English Only, Please, which won Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Original Story, and Best Editing. Both films were directed by Dan Villegas, an experienced director in the realm of romance.
All of You centers around the whirlwind romance of Gab (Ramsay) and Gabby (Mercado), who meet unexpectedly in the beautiful streets of Taiwan and fall quickly in love. When they return to Manila, they undergo the initial stages of a budding relationship–intense passion, joy, and of course, kilig. One of the lighter scenes even shows the two in the car, dancing happily to the film’s theme song “Dying Inside.”
The romance reaches a high point when Gab admits that he has fallen in love with her, leading them to move in together. However, they soon realize just how different they are from each other, and how much these differences are slowly driving them apart. The sweet and exciting feeling of new love is faced with the harsh reality that it endures as time wears on. We see the struggle the characters experience in searching for the answers to these problems, all the while trying to keep the relationship intact.
It’s a story of love, grit, and hard-hitting reality. Reminiscent of A Second Chance (2015), the difficulties and issues illustrated in the film are genuine and hit close to home for many viewers. For those invested in long-term relationships, or have experienced such, the feeling of fighting for love and going through all the frustration and disappointment that comes with it is all too real. The film depicts these struggles in a subtle and quiet way; silent tension and bitter mutterings shape the relationship’s growing fragile nature.
Both Mercado and Ramsey revive their onscreen romance and tastefully demonstrate why they had won Best Actor and Actress three years prior. Gabby’s character of a somewhat traditional and hopeful girl is bolstered by Mercado’s natural charm and quirkiness. Paired with Ramsey’s perpetual role as the cool “bad boy,” the couple can’t help but make audiences fall in love. Despite their strong performances, Mercado’s character undergoes little character development. She begins the film with a sort of stubborn viewpoint on love, and ends the film with the same, which leaves Ramsey’s character to pick up the slack.
The film also boasts outstanding cinematography that enhances the various emotions felt between the two characters. Scenes of Taiwan’s famous alleyways and glowing red lanterns match up well with the feelings of excitement and exoticism in the couple’s first meeting. Shots of quiet teahouses and bustling tourists allow the audience to really picture themselves in the setting and experience what only seems so foreign onscreen.
Initially bright and full of promise, the lighting throughout the film also seems to get darker and more faint, perhaps reflecting the relationship’s progressive deterioration. For example, a scene in the beginning of the relationship shows the happy couple waking up to each other with smiles and longing gazes of love. The scene is bright and filled with sunlight, providing the audience with a sense of cheerfulness and content. However, as the relationship reaches the three-year mark, the couple is seen eating breakfast together in a dimly lit room. The atmosphere is far from happy, and instead gives off a tense vibe.
Yet, through all its beauty and authenticity, the film falls victim to a disappointingly conventional conclusion. All the emotional buildup and conflict lead to a very abrupt ending that fails to be resolved. Instead, it leaves the audience wondering if the director simply ran out of time for a proper ending–it’s like sitting on a rollercoaster ride only for the ride to come up short.
Thus, both Ramsey and Mercado’s honest portrayal of a young couple in love shows audiences the truths of a modern relationship. Real love suffers real problems, and All of You definitely shows that. But with its weak plot and hasty ending, the film’s potentially raw and moving romantic story falls short of expectations and becomes an average love story with nothing remarkable in tow. Rather, it’s just an everyday couple living out their everyday problems.
Featured photo retrieved from i.ytimg.com