By DAWN DANIELLE D. SOLANO
photo taken from Netflix
LOVE has no alarm switch, yet everybody seems to know when it arrives. Movies, paintings, and other pieces of literature can only shed little light on what love really is as its complete definition can rarely be summarized within an hour’s length of a movie.
Despite the challenge, independent film director Real Florido’s 2014 film, Third is My First, attempts to capture the viewer’s heart through the power of love and humor. Starring veteran Filipino actors: Nova Villa, Dante Rivero, and Freddie Webb, the film tackles the restoration of a love that has grown in age.
The story begins with a newly-retired government employee, Corazon (Nova Villa), who goes through the emotional stages of retirement that sends her to question her relationship with her husband Alejandro (Dante Rivero). At the beginning of her days as a retiree, the audience is plunged into the life of Corazon. She tries to fill the lifeless void by repetitively cleaning the house. Soon enough, she tires of this routine and finds it easy to put the blame on her marriage.
Her monotonous day-to-day life after retirement makes an exciting turn when her first love, charismatic Third (Freddie Webb), makes an appearance in her life again. The timely reconnection with Third brings her to the main conflict of the movie, will she rekindle her old flame or put faith in her hopeless marriage?
Nova Villa’s comedic take on Corazon gives the viewers the realness of her situation. It is purposely done to make the character’s coping mechanism to be her sense of humor. Her portrayal of Corazon is exceptionally done as it encompasses the traits of someone who seeks enchantment and sparks in everything.
Moreover, Dante Rivero plays this understanding husband, who dutifully helps his wife go through the dreadful bearings of retirement. Freddie Webb, on the other hand, manifests his alluring personality into the character of Robert, who symbolizes Corazon’s desires.
In the film, Florido uses the material things around the couple to represent the current state of their marriage. The couple owns a beaten-down Mercedes Benz, and out of Alejandro’s expertise on cars, he takes the pleasure of fixing it for his wife’s benefit. The car itself reflects their marriage and his efforts to make their marriage operate in its original state. Aside from the Benz, the table where they eat together plays an important role in the progression of the story. It represents Corazon’s willingness to be content with the life she is living until she finds herself trodding down the road of self-improvement.
By reliving the moments Corazon shared with her first love, she is determined to see herself back in her youthful state. Third feeds into Corazon’s pursuit of happiness by asking her to meet and spend some time together again. Nevertheless, the heroine’s values and principles soon lead her into the crevice of desolation.
Although promising at first, the film also has its own share of flaws. First is the sparse background on Alejandro, which led to the lack of depth of his character. All the audience is given is the plain fact that he is the nephew of a family friend. This aspect leaves the viewers wondering what force led Corazon in choosing him over anyone else. Likewise, the storyline of the film is mainly focused on Third and Corazon’s relationship. Third and Corazon are given more screen time than the actual mending of the married couple’s deteriorated marriage.
Second is the underwhelming resolution of Third and Corazon’s love story. In spite of the bias to their relationship, the film was not able to show the intensity of their separation. Corazon is seen to have skipped the grieving stage when she reluctantly entertains Alejandro, which in turn, complicates her love life in the latter part of her life.
Another facet that made the separation feel unresolved is how the film plays multiple flashbacks of Corazon and Third’s young love, from the day a young Third meets young Corazon to the day Third leaves for the United States. As a result, the audience is not given a chance to explore Corazon’s devastation over the unfulfilled love story with Third. Accordingly, the storyline leaves that part unseen and jumps right into the first meeting of Corazon and Alejandro.
Despite its flawed furnishing, it is definitely a thrill to share the struggles of the heroine. Corazon finds it hard to let go of a huge part of her life and to adjust to a new one. Considering her old age, she is expected to be ready for the transition, however, Third is My First shows that young and old alike grapple at the face of change.
This is reflected in the film’s main goal, which is to give love a face and a definition. At some point in the film, the sewn strings of love’s supposed-to-be definition were stitched in a mediocre manner. Evidently, it is the lack of build-up in Alejandro and Corazon’s regained marriage. Had they shown the weight of their relationship, it would have been clearer why their marriage is worth saving.
In the end, mainstream media has indirectly butchered the meaning of true love by glorifying the value of a ‘spark’ in a relationship. It neglects the reality of the following events when the spark finally dissipates. When in reality, love is not entirely about keeping the flame burning, but rather it is about igniting it even after it dies out, over and over again. F