‘To Love Some Buddy’ review: A certain kind of light

At first glance, it seems that Jason Paul Laxamana’s To Love Some Buddy is but a reiteration of a love story that involves platonic relationships being threatened by realizations of the possibility of romance.

Uncertain and stressful place

Films like Jerry Lopez Sineneng’s Labs Kita, Okey ka Lang? (1998) and Ruel S. Bayani’s Paano na Kaya (2010) have exploited the pains and pleasures phenomenon of friends evolving into lovers for escapist delights.

Then there’s Jose Javier Reyes’ Kung Ako Na Lang Sana (2003), Jade Castro’s Endo (2007), Siege Ledesma’s Shift (2013) and JP Habac’s I’m Drunk, I Love You (2017), friendship-centered romances that also tackled pertinent matters.

Unlike in Sineneng or Bayani’s films, the friendships in these films weren’t convenient plot devices. They were products of a desire not to be alone given the fact that the world is such an uncertain and stressful place, whether it be the threat of growing old alone in Reyes’ film, or the lack of job security in Castro’s film, or the ungodly work hours in Ledesma’s film or the very unknown future after college in Habac’s film.

Laxamana’s film is what it is at first glance. Its lead characters Faith (Maja Salvador) and Julius (Zanjoe Marudo) start out as best friends before taking the plunge to becoming official romantic partners.

Thankfully, To Love Some Buddy, without resorting to overbearing seriousness, isn’t just empty fluff. There is substance to the subject camaraderie, with both characters representing underachievers who require each other to reinforce their unwillingness to mature. The conflict happens when their being in a serious relationship turns out to be that crucial step for them to realize that it isn’t just their relationship that requires seriousness, it is also their life.

Screenshot from the movie trailer

Hilarious treat

For all the seriousness it tries to depict in the merging arenas of love and life, To Love Some Buddy is quite a hilarious treat.

It even opens with a joke, one that pits the expectations of the genre about meet-cutes with a very contemporary punchline about sex scandals. Laxamana, however, isn’t a filmmaker that is satisfied with single-note gags. The opening joke extends from where Faith meets Julius in a café to save face to Faith barging Julius’ apartment, finding pornography in his laptop among other more relevant discoveries. There is a clear intent to make the two leads relatable in their upfront imperfections that are touted initially as just trifles to laugh at.

Salvador is still a charmer. Marudo again proves that he is that rare actor who is not only good in both comedy and drama separately but can also weave comedy and drama together in one scene.

The chemistry between Salvador and Marudo, however, seems tentative at best, with their romantic moments together lacking the mirth of when they connect as uncomplicated buddies. Maybe that is exactly the point of the film, that romance isn’t fun and that it sucks the life out of friendships.

However, the film ultimately suffers with an ending that doesn’t have that great an impact as the beginning and its promise.

Everything uncomfortable thing

Still, To Love Some Buddy is a joy.

It has a certain kind of lightness that doesn’t just simply surrender to blind silliness for empty giggles.

While it doesn’t offer anything new, it fulfils its obligation to not just entertain but also to carve truths, no matter how minute and small, about love, friendship and every uncomfortable thing in the middle. – Rappler.com

 

Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.

Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.