Black Sheep’s first outing is a film that’s about as real as it can get. Here’s my review of Dan Villegas‘ ‘Exes Baggage‘.
The film is centered around ex-lovers Nix (Carlo Aquino) and Pia (Angelica Panganiban). 2 years after their painful breakup, they unexpectedly meet again at the opening of their friend’s bar. As they catch up with each other’s lives, they start to look back on their failed relationship and what really happened before they parted ways, hence, unpacking their “excess baggage”. Their story is presented through a nonlinear narrative, alternating between the present-day conversation, and the years they were together, from the day they met, to the day they broke up.
At first glance, this looks like your standard Dan Villegas movie, and to a certain extent, it actually is. All the usual elements of his films are present here, from the constant smoking (which I condemn, by the way), to the climactic confrontations inside a car. What sets this apart from all his other films is how it feels more genuine, more authentic in terms of emotions. It feels like watching two real people, having real conversations, showing real feelings, and sharing real thoughts. Nothing feels forced, and it never sugarcoats anything. It isn’t scared to show us the reality of modern relationships, all its ups and downs, and how different people have different preferences and different ways of dealing with things.
The film’s authenticity is the true highlight of this film, thanks to the natural chemistry of Carlo Aquino and Angelica Panganiban. I’m too young to have known their team-up at their prime, but based on what I’ve seen in this film, their pairing is stronger than ever. They both deliver in terms of acting, but it is Panganiban who gives her all in this film. She conveys just the right amount of emotions, while still portraying her character as natural as possible. Director Dan Villegas is a master at telling these kinds of stories, and he nails it again this time.
(SPOILER-ish ALERT: If you haven’t watched the film yet, skip this paragraph.)
One thing I wasn’t so fond of was the ending. I’m not a fan of how this film ended the way it did, just because it comes really close to the formulaic romcom premise of everyone getting their happy ending. It doesn’t justify the character’s actions, and instead they keep making the wrong decisions in the end, knowing things will end up the same way as before. Thankfully, this doesn’t ruin the good things Villegas has done to this film, and the experience is still pretty satisfying.
The song choices in the film were perfect. Maybe The Night by Ben&Ben is one of my favorite OPM songs of all time, and the film takes it to another level. It’s used in the most special moments of the film, and while it’s used many times in the film, it never loses its charm. The film also looks good, but that isn’t surprising considering that all of Villegas‘ films look stunning, but the good thing about that is it isn’t just all style and no substance. It’s a film that looks good, and actually has a story to tell.
Exes Baggage is as real as any romantic movie can get. There’s no over-the-top confrontations, no flashy dialogue, no grand gestures, and no convoluted plot points. It’s an inside look at today’s modern relationships, seen through the perspective of characters who think, talk, and live like real people. I’ll go as far as saying that it’s almost perfect, though I’m not entirely on board with the choices made at the end.
My Rating: 8/10
Here’s the full trailer for ‘Exes Baggage’: