Starting Over Again is a Cliché But It Ain’t a Copycat

Director: Olivia Lamasan
Screenplay: Carmi Raymundo
Cast: Toni Gonzaga, Piolo Pascual, Iza Calzado

Watching Starting Over Again is reminiscent of being single, female, and watching a romantic comedy on a Valentine’s day: it’s kinda cliche. And I find myself doing both last night.

This is not to say that both are repulsive or completely unsatisfying. On one hand, this movie (and the movie before this, and the movie before that, and so on) roams on chartered territories of romantic comedies–uptight male meets vivacious free spirited girl, she makes him feel alive and fall for her, they each have a set of friends who only live to give them relationship advice– you get the drift. In here, Toni Gonzaga plays the giddy schoolgirl turned gorgeous architect Ginny who is on a dead-set mission to win back her former flame back, while Marco, played by Piolo Pascual, is her former professor and ex-lover. It could have been Sarah Geronimo and Gerald Anderson playing these roles, or it could have been John Lloyd and Bea. Heck, the movie itself gives an all-too familiar One More Chance vibe. Once and again, Star Cinema banks on the likeability of its actors to pull off yet another blockbuster while giving us the same tropes all over again. Familiarity does breed contempt, but it’s a little less so in this case.

It’s impossible, however, not to fall for Toni’s Ginny. She’s wacky, smart, and the movie has us laughing at her attempts to chase her ideal man. The movie has us falling for her crazy antics and her cute but garish manners, and then makes us hate her for being the one who left. In the end, we accept her and all of the characters in this love story, because of the compelling motivation that the movie gave each of them. The movie is very much in control, as the several plot reveals made through flashbacks were properly paced.

If we feel for Ginny because we sympathize for her dreams and aspirations, we also feel for Marco, but mainly because of Piolo’s time-proven prowess to provide depth to his roles. And let’s not forget a rain-drenched Papa P, in tears, while pleading his lover not to leave him–a blockbuster inducing scene, if there ever was any.

It is kind of a cliché but it’s not. As I sit there in the movie house–single and female on a Valentine’s day–I am reminded of the quote “everything’s a copy of a copy of a copy,” and I find myself disagreeing. This year’s moviehouse experience has the author more jaded, yes, but wiser and optimistic nonetheless, more so than the previous years. This is precisely what this movie is: it’s certainly no raunchy resuscitation of past rom-coms, but it is a better version of its predecessors.

It marks a doing-away with the fundamental happy ending, although it is happy in many aspects. In a way, it is self-aware that we’ve all been victimized by the same love stories, and Ginny is the perfect embodiment of blind pursuit of love because of “signs” and “destiny.” It is a sign of collective maturity that we see here, and in some few recent films, that the concept of companionate love (good conversation, mutual respect, that sort of thing) is as preferable a romance as the swooning and heart racing kind.

Second romances are as excitable as second chances. Ginny’s emotional journey is hers and mine to take, and I’m claiming it.