Film Critique on: Four Sisters & a Wedding

This was written for the Art Appreciation Project of the 1st half of the 1st semester 2013-2014 last Aug. 7, 2013.

Normally, it usually takes a certain period of time to court/date someone you want to marry before those vows down along the aisle. Then everyone lives happily ever after, right? But in reality, as exemplified in the case of Four Sisters and a Wedding, it’s not an easy road to take, especially if you have a wedding that’ll take place in 2 weeks & you just informed your relatives all too soon; worse if they plot to sabotage the wedding out of concern, but in the wrong way.

While the story itself is original story-wise, its origins go back to a screenplay written by Filipino director & screenwriter Jose Javier Reyes, which might not have been translated to the screen for unknown reasons. The film tells of the Salazar siblings: recently-laid off Madrid-based teacher Teddie (Toni Gonzaga), New York-based communications manager Bobbie (Bea Alonzo), film producer Alex (Angel Locsin), high school teacher Gabbie (Shaina Magdayao) & only boy CJ (Enchong Dee) who have drifted apart for some time. Then things went mad when CJ revealed he’ll tie the knot with his girlfriend of 4 months, wellness spa heiress Princess Bayag (Angeline Quinto) in 2 weeks. Stunned by the news, the sisters take arms & plot to stop the wedding a la My Best Friend’s Wedding for their brother’s sake. But as they try to sabotage the plans, they have some major problems (particularly the 3 eldest sisters): Teddie is ashamed to tell her family about losing her job due to the Euro Crisis, Bobbie can’t seem to get along with her fiancée Tristan’s (Sam Milby) daughter from his late wife: Trixie (Samantha Faytaren) & Alex’s boyfriend Chad (Bernardo Palanca) is cheating on her (before her, he used to date Bobbie) with another girl. Soon, tons of obstacles, mishaps & a tragedy pile up and the girls have to face the facts, if they can live a happy ending.

The Salazars are portrayed realistically, in the sense that they presented as a family who needs to help each other to clear up the troubles they have gotten to & stick with each other. The opening showed the girls making a Christmas gift for Jesus out of Rebisco biscuit sandwiches when they were younger, which was later show again when they renewed their relationship with each other near the end of the film. The portrayal of the Bayag family as a very wealthy family is exaggerated throughout the film: their house looked like an expansive lot in the US, their house helpers are dressed up as if like they’re stuck in Edwardian England, they wore bright colors & flashy clothing; also, their personalities are also parodied for the upper class Filipino family (though Princess, personality-wise, wasn’t absurd as her parents).

To be honest, the cast were appropriately cast & effectively. It’s no secret for that Angel, Bea & Shaina are actually best friends in real life, so that somehow help in their roles. Bea & Samantha are also well-casted for Bobbie & Trixie’s rocky relationship from enemies with a common tie (in this case, Tristan) to the best of friends. Coney Reyes is excellent in portraying Grace Salazar to the right fit, with a face of concern that shows how much she’s worried about the children’s relationship going sour, & a mother’s love for all of her children. Angeline should been given good merits for portraying Princess as a well-off heiress without going too stereotypical, as evident in her scene with Enchong about their familial worries & their film chemistry is wonderful. Toni’s chemistry with Janus del Prado/Frodo is also as dynamic, especially with the scene where Teddie begged Frodo to loan her money to go home, with the condition that he pose for her ‘boyfriend’, a masquerade that’ll turn slowly into a relationship in the film’s progress.

The setting is proven effective in its part. The Salazar residence provides much of the major scenes in the film (from the opening to the charades incident & the sisters’ confessions to the sisters’ happy renewal of their familial love for each other). The spa also provides uncertainty over Frodo being ‘attacked’ by a masseur, with dark lighting for the massage area & bright lights for the reception area. The wedding theme is a clear parody of Disney’s The Little Mermaid: proof is found in the sisters’ gowns, CJ’s outfit looks like Prince Eric’s while the top bodice part of Princess’ gown looks like Ariel’s seashell bra top. The film’s cinematography is done with colors, with the scenes having a glossy finish. The lighting is also used well, for the film. The camera angles are effectively useful, with close-ups done for many major important scenes like Teddie, Bobbie & Alex’s confessions, most of CJ & Princess’ talk at the pool area of her house & most of Bobbie’s conversations with Tristan & Trixie. The music score is shown as effective, not cheesy or not too funny; just enough to give you a sense of a telenovela & a romantic comedy film (which the film really is) mashed into one sitting. No special effects were used, just the makeup needs for the exaggeration on the part of Carmi Martin/Jeanette’s look, due to the comedy essence in the film.

In the film, symbols were rarely used a lot. But the obvious ones were the Rebisco biscuit sandwich (which stands for the siblings’ very close relationship with each other prior to the main plot) &, surprisingly, the wedding (which became the full closure for all the characters’ problems).

The film, overall, is a very effective movie, in the sense, that it addresses to the importance of familial bonds, accepting change as a part of life & renewing ties broken. The story is well-written & well-executed by both cast & crew members involved in the film. If one wants a good dose of a local rendition of a wedding-themed dramedy film (without any excessive drama or comedy elements that would have overwhelm the story) a la My Best Friend’s Wedding, Four Sisters and a Wedding will definitely take you on a well-balanced adventure.

Information on the film: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Sisters_and_a_Wedding

Rashomon Analysis with Fish & Iser

Rashomon is a story of different views of an event, not one is consider right, nor is it wrong. In light of this, Hermeneutics is used to analyze the story itself. Wolfgang Iser stated that the interaction between the text & the reader is the main point in reading of any literary work. He also says that a literary works has 2 poles: the artistic (author’s text) & the aesthetic (a realization done by the reader). It also is the very lack of ascertainability & defined intention that should bring about the relationship of the text & the reader. He also mentions loopholes, gaps known as ‘blanks’ that are missing in the seemingly trivial. They motivated the reader to fill in these blanks with all kinds of projections.  Stanley Fish, on the other hand, said that creating meaning in any literary (& non-literary) work is made from various interpretations. He also said that every different interpretation of a work is significant, even to the point that all attempts in finding which reading is correct fail.  He also explains that one person will have different performances when reading two ‘different’ works, while different readers will have the same interpretations when reading the ‘same’; in other words, both stability of interpreting among the readers & variety of interpretation in a reader’s career would seem argue for an existence of something independent of & prior to the interpretive acts & he said that these two are only functions of interpretive strategies, not of text. Fish then claims that the readers play an important role in making meaning & purpose in the text more than the author themselves.

To apply these, let’s say that the Text is the event: the murder of a samurai & his wife’s rape; the witnesses & the people involved are the Readers, & Interpretative Communities. They saw the events leading to the rape & murder differently; the people involved painted them differently as if one is the true victims, while others are responsible for such problem. The Ambiguity lies in their inconsistent testimonies which complicate the trial & the event more; these inconsistencies are also the blanks that the viewers have to figure out themselves, since none of these may be true or false. All of these fallacies are all sugar-coated attempts to save one’s skin for sure.

Also true is that if one tries to find a way to stiff up which testimony is correct, then it’ll be a failure, since many have their own versions, & it’s possible that they’re lying, as lampshaded by the woodcutter to the priest & commoner about the samurai’s testimony from the Underworld. In the end, they’re the ones have made the story of the murder & rape more complex with their story-telling & interpretations of the event in their eyes, rather than just coincidence (the author here) itself, blaming one or two for the misfortune they suffered, until reality looks very murky to no end.