One of the many preconceived notions I have about films is that non-English ones are more daring. Usually, this is in terms of violence[note]At least for films I take an interest in.[/note]. Something which can be used to up the stakes and shock you like in Elle or The World of Kanako. However, with Our Lovers, I’m reminded that in romance they take uncommon routes as well. But, as noted before, being different doesn’t necessarily make something good. So let’s see on the spectrum where Our Lovers falls.
After 8 years and 1 child, Maria (Amala Salamanca) wakes up and tells Carlos (Eduardo Noriega) that she feels nothing. Not necessarily for him but after 8 years, she feels like she has nothing. With that, she asks for a short separation. One which eventually leads Carlos to meet Irene (Michelle Jenner). A young woman who is noted to be a manic pixie dream girl, but quickly erases the association. For while she is an eccentric one, it is established she had a full life before Carlos. One she will very much continue no matter his decisions.
Of which, one of the first she asks of him is whether he will play with her. For, you see, Irene herself just got out of an intense and unhealthy relationship. So, with that, she wants to have fun. Not in the whole “I’m going to sleep around to get over so-and-so type of fun,” but to experience the joys of dating. The early period of just when you are getting to know someone.
However, there are rules. Of which the major one is that Carlos can’t fall in love with her. Which, considering his marriage, is probably for the best. But, despite that marriage, he eventually has to come to a point where he has to choose. He has to choose between an 8-year story ending or continuing one which was written over the course of a month.
The longer I live, the more I’m convinced chance doesn’t exist.
[What’s the best thing about him?] He’s a man who hasn’t forgotten to be a child. [And the worst?] At times the child forgets he’s a man.
No Manic Pixie Dream Girl Here
Perhaps one of the main things I enjoyed was the fact Irene was a real person. Yes, she was weird in ways only a handful of girls you know maybe comfortable being. However, she wasn’t for the sake of entertainment. In fact, the film directly addresses the perception of her seeming like a Manic Pixie Dream Girl [note] MPDG for now on[/note] multiple times. It first does so in the intro but Carlos really pushes it.
For with Carlos being a screenwriter, and a bit uncouth, he directly notes how that is a way to describe Irene. But then the film deliberately, but not forcefully, deconstructs that notion. It establishes her own problems ranging from financial to emotion. Then in a way, it turns things on Carlos and makes him the male version: A Manic Elf Dream Boy.
Thus allowing for a balanced, albeit ideal, relationship to develop.
A Complicated Love Story
Carlos is married and Irene isn’t fully over her ex. Irene hasn’t outright said she wanted a divorce and Jorge (Gabino Diego), Irene’s ex, still cares about her. Now, in most romance movies, Maria would be a simple villain. She is the wife who feels Carlos isn’t enough and so you think he deserves better. However, this film wants things to be more complicated. They don’t want to put all the weight on Maria. After all, it is Carlos that we are seeing stepping out of his marriage. He is the one entertaining this woman, ten years his junior, and being charming. So as much as there is this desire to damn Maria, Carlos isn’t without fault.
Not even just because of the Irene situation, but because you can understand Maria’s point of view as well. She initiated the relationship and that in itself was likely thrilling. Going against gender norms and being the one who takes on the weight of the initial rejection. Yet, from there, he didn’t return the excitement. He was attractive, dependable, but after 8 years life became routine. Life became boring.
So while you may want to see Maria as a horrible person, especially as you get to know her, at the same time it is hard to not relate a little bit. Especially if you ever been in a long relationship which hit a rough patch. If not one where you find yourself questioning if you could go another year, much less another week since you don’t feel happy or excited anymore. Yet, because of shared responsibilities, you are never sure whether ending things is a rash or the right decision.
On The Fence
The Weird Ex and Eccentric Best Friend
Jorge and Cristobal (Fele Martinez) are blemishes for this movie. Not outright liabilities, but definitely underdeveloped. For Jorge, unlike Maria, we aren’t given this sense that he is anything but an ass. The kind you just can’t fathom someone falling for, much less sticking with, no matter how charming they are. Then with Cristobal, he is nothing more but Carlos’ friend. An odd addition since we see the friends of no one else and, Cristobal is frankly weird.
Take for example his love of shooting off guns, even using a shotgun to fish. Add in that, as Carlos’ scriptwriting partner, for their latest hit he asked Carlos to choose between vomiting and farting for a gag. Mind you, both know they could do better than that. But, the point is, being that we don’t get to know Cristobal, it is hard to know whether to take him seriously or not. Whether, in the pursuit of making Irene real and Maria complicated, these two, Cristobal and Jorge, got the treatment most actresses get in movies like this.
Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing) – Recommended
While Cristobal and Jorge didn’t do much for the movie, everything else about it was convincing. For while there is a bit of idealism with Carlos and Irene’s relationship, at least it poked at itself. It noted how Irene could see like an MPDG but wasn’t. It also avoided that usual idiotic moment that requires a grandeur gesture to recover from. But, best of all, when it came to the women at least, they were allowed to be complicated and a tad messy. Just like Carlos.
Hence the positive label. Now, as for why this is being recommended? Well, it is because I can imagine watching this again. Something I feel I can’t say about the majority of the movies I watch. For little things like this game Irene and Carlos play were intriguing to me[note]The way the game works is that one person asks the question(s) they think the other person wants to know. In return, that person answers the question how they think the other person would answer.[/note]. For it represented something which wasn’t just weird, but genuine. The type of stuff you’d want to steal for your own story or use in your life for envy makes it too special to not bring into your interactions. And while the basic desire of any romance film is reminding the audience what love can be, Our Lovers reminds you of what love is as well.