(This piece was previously published on Katipunan Magazine by The GUIDON.)
NO, it’s not just another mistress story. One More Try, written by Jay Fernando and Anna Karenina Ramos and directed by Ruel S. Bayani, is much, much more convoluted than that.
One More Try follows the lives of two couples, Tristan (Zanjoe Marudo) and Grace (Angel Locsin), and Edward (Dingdong Dantes) and Jacq (Angelica Panganiban). Their existences intertwine in order to save the life of Botchok, the son of Grace and Edward, former flames, who has a rare form of leukemia that can only be treated by a bone marrow transplant. When Edward fails to provide a biological match, the creation of a second child is presented as the only course of action. All options to create the child, including in vitro fertilization, fail. The couples are thus plunged into a harrowing roller coaster of emotions as the only option left for Grace and Edward is to conceive a child naturally. Hint hint.
Heavy with dramatic dialogue and sigh-inducing scene after sigh-inducing scene, it’s no denying that One More Try is packed with enough entertainment value to garner it Best Picture at the 38th Metro Manila Film Festival. Add to that a roster of hopelessly attractive young stars, and it’s a certified box office hit. However, huge plot holes prevent the more discerning viewer from enjoying the film in its entirety.
The film presents a very distorted timeline of events: Jacq first proposes to bring the child to the States for treatment because they are financially able to do so, but Edward objects because the entire process will take too long and they do not know how long the child has. Thus, Edward insists that a sibling for Botchok is the only way to save his life.
What Edward, the entire movie, fails to take into consideration is that the creation of a second child will take at least nine months, assuming they’re successful on their first and supposedly only try, and at least a year for the child to grow before he or she can be safely tested for bone marrow compatibility… during which Botchok could have been taken to the States for treatment in the first place. Beyond having to wait for the child to reach a certain age to ascertain compatibility and the possibility that a match may not even happen then, the moral culpability of bringing in another child into the world solely for the utilitarian purpose of harvesting his bone marrow is also an aspect that never occurs to anyone.
The options the couples have are also of questionable medical plausibility: The couples were mainly consulting an obstetrician-gynecologist for this endeavor, as opposed to a specialist in something more relevant like cancer or pediatrics. The OB/GYN, played by Carmina Villaroel, was over-the-top and loud, evoking no sense of credibility whatsoever. She was obstinately pushing for her rather invasive and highly sensitive proposal despite the obvious discomfort of both couples. The couples, on their part, were not portrayed as seeking any kind of second opinions either, which would be the first thing any rational person not in a Filipino drama movie would do in such a dire situation.
Slow and dragging, with gratuitous lovey-dovey eye candy scene after gratuitous lovey-dovey eye candy scene, One More Try relies on the weight of its melodrama to see it through to the end. Ultimately, the ending is just as ridiculous as Carmina Villaroel’s character. In true Filipino film fashion, the ending must always, always be happy, despite the circumstances of the film that point to such being highly unlikely. For a film that poses to present a pseudo-intellectual and moral dilemma, One More Try copped out by not even trying to give any form of satisfactory resolution.
The film has been compared to the 2009 American film My Sister’s Keeper in terms of premise. More film-savvy netizens have drawn attention to a 2007 Chinese film, In Love We Trust, which is virtually identical in concept. Despite this and all its flaws, One More Try is, if not completely original, a somewhat enjoyable, engaging watch on its own. It just needs a very willing suspension of disbelief.