EVERYTHING ABOUT HER (2016) Review
Directed by Joyce Bernal
Dragon Lady, real estate business tycoon Vivian Rabaya played by Vilma Santos is all business but hides its weakness for the less fortunate and her son Albert, played by Xian Lim. She’s sucessful career-wise and has nothing else to wish for, but everything changes when she passed out on the way attending an event.
High spirited and hard working nurse Jaica, played by Angel Locsin, excels in what she does and is a favorite by a doctor where she works. She’s also a dedicated daughter and sister, positive in life despite of being left by their mother. Even with a fine job, she still has financial problems with her family but with her hard work and pleasant and positive attitude, a recommendation will change her life, maybe even forever.
Now, you might get the same vibe in the Meryl Streep starrer The Devil Wears Prada or maybe Zig Dulay’s M: Mother’s Maiden Name. While it has similar storylines, the treatment here is different. It’s very Filipino, the views of the characters, in life, in work and in family. Though the characters does have similar attributes to the said films, Everything About Her is written in a more convenient and accessible way for a wider audience, mostly Filipinos obviously.
Vivan and Jaica needed each other, a private nurse for Vivian and someone who has the ability to provide better pay for Jaica. With a non-disclosure agreement, Jaica luckily got the job but it wasn’t like her everyday job as Vivian is as she calls her, Impakta. Vivian refuses to take her medicine and still drowns herself in a stressful environment. But work needs to be done, Vivian’s company needs a new architect to hire for a new project. You get to see Angel Locsin as a comic relief here with Vilma Santos bringing the drama. The two worked well together on-screen, portraying their characters effectively. But the picture gets bigger as Jaica convinced Albert (Vivian’s son played by Xian Lim) with the help of Vivian’s friend Leo (Michael De Mesa), to fly back to Manila and take the job.
Vivian suspects Jaica told Albert about her condition even with their non-disclosure agreement, but she did and still told Vivian that Albert has no idea about her sickness. But Vivian’s son has no idea about the agreement, so Jaica rushed her way to him and told him about it and to make it convincing, he should stay at their house for Vivian’s sake as well. We now have our three main characters, they play well with each other and though the story is predictable and familiar, their performances and charm made it a pleasing movie viewing. Director Joyce Bernal is known for her quirkiness and works well with heavy dramas or laugh out loud comedies, and with the material being decently written, you mostly can’t go wrong.
Jaica and Albert get to know more about each other while being there for Vivian, career-wise and sympathetically. Xian gets to know her mother more as more than a decade was erased between them as mother and son. One of the best part of the film is showing how Vivian longs for her son, Albert. Vilma Santos stretches her hand to Xian Lim driving the car and hesitates because she’s scared of what might happen, or what he might do. The exertion is obvious, but it’s that little detail that one relates the most to. Jaica then teaches both Vivian and Albert the essence of having each other though hypocrisy lies as she herself doesn’t communicate with her mother for a very long time.
The film doesn’t only tackle the importance of family, or the job or even the sacrifices we do for our families, there’s also forgiveness and also growth. All of which is done in a sensible way. The three bonded through business trips and meals and awkward situations which is quite entertaining. As Vivian’s heart melted and got close with Jaica, she then allows her to visit her family which she accepts happily as she misses them. But all happiness leads somewhere unpleasant. Jaica returns to her job arriving with an ambulance on the doorstep of Vivian’s house. She rushed inside with a screaming Vivian welcoming her. Of course none of the staff knew about her condition the reason why they called the ambulance but as Jaica handles everything, she was helped by Albert. Albert slips and reveals about him knowing Vivian’s condition and then she started screaming at Jaica for not being truthful and for not complying with their agreement but they need to calm and cure Vivian first. It’s the first time Albert sees his mom like this, vulnerable, in pain and not in control, he freaks out as he feels afraid of what might happen to her, if she’s going to leave her again, this time forever.
Albert ran and drove as far as he can, drunk. Xian seems confident in proving his acting here. With Vilma Santos and Angel Locsin with him, his performance didn’t disappoint. Albert has a lot on his plate but so does Vivian and Jaica. As Vivian recovers, she feels helpless finding his son, whether that was their final moment together or not. Jaica gives herself up and apologize to Vivian, that it is also her job to take care of her and that includes finding ways to make her feel better so she could be better. The two keeps their boss-private nurse relationship and also revealed to everyone else her condition. Making her sign her last will and testament as she is ready for what’s to come. But Jaica refuses to believe that she won’t last long enough. The two hugged and says their thank yous to each other but Vivian felt weak and passed out.
Albert comes to the hospital to say his sorrys and resentments. This is one of the most emotional moments in the film and the lines were true to their characters. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. As soon as Vivian checks out of the hospital, the two came back to the doctor for the review before Vivian admits herself for a stem cell therapy. But sadly, the cancer cells had spread through her kidneys and other body parts making it too late for the said therapy. They could only do one thing now, accept and move forward with life, at least with the time Vivian has before she dies.
The film ended with a celebration of life, Jaica calls her mom and made amends for their past. Vivian and Albert celebrated with Jaica and her family and the people they worked with. It all came down to celebrating life and loss. That whatever life gives us, it’s up to us how we manage it, as long as we have someone to go with the journey of life.
The film is full of heart. No one can deny that these characters will touch the hearts of the viewers. It’s a good way for Star Cinema to start the year, offering something moving and will make people think twice of how they treat their loved ones. It’s obvious that the performances here are worthy of your attention but it’s the details that made this film memorable and will leave the audiences’ hearts broken but warm.
4 OUT OF 5 STARS
“Everything About Her” is now showing in Philippine cinemas nationwide from Star Cinema. Rated PG by the MTRCB.