By MARIA PAMELA S. REYES
THE WORLD has a lot of expectations when it comes to women. The moment they are born, a path has already been laid out for them by their parents and by the stereotypes that have been dominating society for years. Because of this, women are instilled to act and live a certain way. Moreover, they struggle with their self-identity while juggling the reality they must live in.
Liz is a 45-year-old unwed lady who works as a clinical psychologist and has just recently lost her mother. After tending to her parents throughout her life, she is left with a large home filled with antique items collected by her late mother which are the only things that keep her mother’s presence alive. Her friends urge her to sell them in order to create a fresh start, and she follows this reluctantly. Josh, a young man twenty years her junior, takes an interest and decides to buy her antiques. To her surprise, they hit it off instantly through a few teasing text messages. What was supposed to be a customer-buyer relationship has turned into something reckless and flirtatious.
Directed by Joji V. Alonso and written by Therese Cayaba, Belle Douleur is a film that tackles the struggles of a single woman in her mid-40s which stems from the expectation’s society has of what a woman should do: get married and have children, the few things she can never accomplish. However, she finally decides to break such barriers and live her life as she pleases, especially in love.
The film’s heroine, Liz is portrayed by Mylene Dizon, who delivers the pain of her character perfectly. During the first few minutes of the film, Dizon’s performance will instantly catch one’s attention as Liz expresses her loneliness through the suffocation she exhibits when she feels the absence of her mother. She makes the audience really sympathize with her struggles as a woman in her mid-40 who has no family to go home to and is estranged with her relatives.
Meanwhile, her romantic interest, Josh played by Kit Thompson, is an antique seller, who in some way empathizes with Liz’s situation. Unfortunately, in contrast with his lead’s passionate portrayal, Kit Thompson still lacks the skills that Dizon has already mastered throughout her whole career. Nevertheless, his effort is commendable for being on par with his co-star and keeping the attraction from both characters alive.
One of the highlights of the film is the two actors’ distinct chemistry— one may notice that they both are truly in love and yet, there is a presence of uncertainty due to their age gap and generational differences.
Tied in every passionate scene is an array of exceptional choice of music that reflects every emotion the characters felt as their relationship progresses throughout the movie from a heated connection into something serious and remarkable. The well-known French love song, La Vie en Rose, becomes a staple in the couple’s relationship as they slowly fall in love. In combination with a stellar soundtrack is the warm filter the movie opted for. It shows the coziness and giddiness of slowly falling in love while feeling the heated attraction towards a certain person.
Overall, Belle Douleur sheds light on the struggles of women because of the prying eyes of society. An illustration of this is how the film shows people expecting women to finish their degrees, get married, raise children, and become doting housewives. Other than that, women who have grown old and single are given the idea that they may never find true love nor experience the excitement of being young again for they are now neither sexy nor beautiful.
In the film, Liz finds a way to overcome these hurdles and live her life, not for her late mother, lover, or society, but finally for herself. F