Alone / Together Was Less About Love and More on Life
by Erika Lagunzad, February 26, 2019 10:40am
photo courtesy of Black Sheep, ABS-CBN
In this review, we shy away from the Raff and Tin narrative and see the movie for what it is, a love story between Tin and the real world.
At the film’s center, Tin (Liza Soberano) serves as our overachieving relatable guide through the “real world”—a young professional who questions both her dreams, decisions, and her whirlwind past.
The movie opens with a look into history (or also in this case “her” story) where Tin, a student-volunteer at the National Museum, explains to touring students the meaning of Juan Luna’s “Spoliarium.” She recalls how the painting represents the Philippines’ dark past further emphasizing we mustn't repeat our own mistakes or to never forget. It is also in this scene where she meets Raf (Enrique Gil) for the first time, and the rest is shall we say a love story.
The film details into the life of Tin, an overachieving UP art studies major, while Raf, her boyfriend, is a pre-medicine student from the University of Santo Tomas—whose story plays around the narrative of Tin. They dream of a future where they achieve their individual dreams together—her a famous museum director abroad and him a medical doctor. And then the real world happened.
And since this is a modern love story—one that’s hardly fiction—life does not give our protagonist one crisis at a time, she’s given a crisis on top of another, and she chooses to face it alone.
Di Ko Alam Ano Nangyari
The film fast forwards to five years later after Tin and Raff’s breakup, Tin is now 27 years old working in the corporate world. And somewhere along the way, her dreams didn't turn out the way she expects them to, and she lost a sense of who she is—if this sounds too familiar it hurts, we’re already calling on the shots for you to watch it.
Tin has found herself unable to proceed with her dreams in the field of arts—the field where her dreams rely on—because of an incident at her first post-graduate job.
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Tin’s problem is as familiar as the story arcs that plagues the careers of people who want it all—apparently, they can’t. In this case, it was Tin’s choices after her rookie mistake defined her failure—choices include breaking up with Raf, settling into a relationship, and surviving day to day in a profession she is un-passionate about. In a nutshell: A life she didn’t dream for herself.
It’s safe to say how an unfulfilling career can affect the personal lives of young professionals these days—that’s just how they’re wired to be—and that should be okay. In this film, you want Tin to succeed. You want her to find happiness, one that doesn’t just mean getting back with Raf given the convenience to fulfill her many what-ifs as a shortcut to getting her life back on track. You want Tin to feel okay with her setbacks and move on because somehow it‘s what we want to say to ourselves, too.
"Hindi dahil di mo naabot ang pangarap mo ay failure ka na"
Alone / Together paints the tragedy of young adulthood in its unglamorous light. It was less about winning at life and love, and more of redefining your failures and owning up to your mistakes. What gives it a real edge, however, is that it’s one of those rare films that endorses the silent battles, the small wins that don’t get to be celebrated because they’re not grand, nor share-worthy. But they are wins nonetheless.
Two worlds Alone / Together
Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil delivered heartfelt performances in celebrating the mids and lows of being in your 20s. The movie is careful to portray its characters that aren’t dependent on the “LizQuen” loveteam chemistry for it to work. And both the actors have comfortably carried their roles down from the pimple-marked Isko to the licensed medical doctor personas.
It’s the in-between moments that work best. The film’s at its most engaging when everything’s quiet, no dialogue, no fancy one-liners—just letting thoughts flicker in the backdrop that is Manila. Little moments like a shot lingering on Tin and Raff’s silences in the airport for just a little longer than expected as Tin realizes that the fantasy of their what-ifs can no longer exist.
“Huwag kang matakot gawin ang tama kahit mahirap”
Instead of pummelling a single issue that is Tin and Raf’s love story (as what we’ve expected from the trailers) the film takes on a more relatable range of themes and subjects, including the difficulty of facing uncertainty and failures, the intricacies of contemporary relationships, going after what you want, or of being at peace with one’s self.
From Real to Reel
Maybe you could accuse the film of being underwhelming and typical, but its normalcy is key to Antoinette Jadaone’s romantic movies. She brings to light how stories are more enjoyable, appreciated, and romantic when it's being casual.
Alone/Together leaves us with an ending that hinges on the mystery of being back to where it all started, no dramatic stares, just a silhouette of the two characters tainted by time—leaving the audience in attempts to read what’s happening and what will happen between them in separate worlds.
Alone/Together (like every one of Jadaone's pieces) “is not just about relationships.” That love stories don’t end with a kiss nor a grand ending. Rather, it ends with a mix of uncertainty about the future and affection gathered from the past, and it begins again.
Alone/Together is an ode to all things young, urban millennial professional, and one thing it gets right about the culture is how important and pivotal the spaces between alone and together can be.
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