One of the most common tropes in Pinoy indie films is the so-called “woman in the dark” – that persistent admirer, loyal girlfriend, or devoted wife who has no idea that her significant other is actually out and about exploring his sexuality. Examples include Suzette from Ang Lalake Sa Parola, Milagring from Pagnanasa, and Annette from Kambyo. While the intention here is not to hurt the woman, the end result is the man depriving her of her informed choice to continue the relationship, thereby making her the casualty in his journey to self-discovery. And as indies are mostly written in the point of view of the man, the woman’s side is largely uncharted. I hope this problematic trope ends with the rise of Star Cinema’s Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes.
Lianne (Judy Ann Santos) and Cindy (Angelica Panganiban) find out that their husbands Gary and Felix (Joross Gamboa and JC De Vera) are in a relationship. As they struggle to make sense of the situation, the ladies resolve to get their revenge.
While this premise is a landmine for comedy (and the film delivers!), what I appreciate the most is that it maturely tackles such a touchy subject while working within the confines of the genre. For one, it introduced the idea of sexualities beyond mere binaries. You have Felix identifying himself as “hetero-flexible.” Heck, there’s even mention of pansexuality, gender fluidity, and LGBTQQIP2SAA! In a key scene at a restaurant, the men try to explain their preferences to the women to hilarious yet bittersweet results. Big words, new concepts. But the movie helped put the discourse out there for sure.
All this is framed in a story that has a distinctly Pinoy sensibility, allowing the survey of sensitive issues without losing pathos for what both sides are going through. The central conflict here is essentially not the men’s sexuality but their infidelity. The wives are enraged and hurt more so by their husbands’ conceit and abandonment – especially Lianne who has a lot more at stake. At the same time, Gary and Felix’s decision wasn’t a walk in the park either; by leaving everything behind, they gamble on what is safe and secure. Society at large fostered an environment that leaves the men with no choice but to pretend, hide, then escape.
How the film ties everything together in the end carries an important lesson and a call to action. Juggling both sides without downplaying the other makes Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes both triumphant and progressive. This is extraordinary and unprecedented for a mainstream film, Star Cinema at that. Kudos!
Random Notes (SPOILERS BELOW)
- Angelica’s comedic flair is a given, but I was thoroughly impressed by Judy Ann Santos here. It’s such a treat to see the young superstar give it her all in this role.
- I like Joross and all, but he has no chemistry with Judy Ann and feels too young for the part. I’m left to wonder how someone like Sid Lucero, Luis Alandy, or Polo Ravales would fare as Gary (all are coincidentally from the Manay Po! series).
- I found Andrea Brillantes’ character a bit contrived. She felt like a grown-up in a body of a kid with dialogues straight from Kris Aquino’s Instagram account.
- How will the Gary-Felix marriage work if they’re not yet annulled? Not sure of the legalities here.
- I get it. Felix likes cats. Felix the cat.
Image credit: Star Cinema