Tag Archives: Jodi Sta. Maria

tv + film by Philbert Dy

‘Dear Other Self’ Tells Two Boring Stories in One Boring Movie

Two timelines offer much ado about nothing.

NBHD movie 1-2 ticketsDear Other Self introduces Becky (Jodi Sta. Maria) as a successful travel blogger with a decent following. In her voiceover narration, she wonders out loud how she could have taken a different path. The movie goes back to a night some time ago, when some loud karaoke singing in her neighborhood kept her from completing an important presentation. The film then splits her story into two branching paths. In one, she nails the presentation and furthers her career as a creative director. In the other, she decides to resign and pursue her dream of traveling.Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 1.27.40 PMSo, in one story she goes to Thailand and tries out being a solo traveler. While there, she meets Henry (Xian Lim), a veteran traveler who helps her become more adventurous. In the other story, she mostly ends up having to act as chauffeur for her co-worker Chris (Joseph Marco) after she accidentally crashes into his car. In either case, there isn’t a whole lot of conflict. The movie is averse to any kind of substantial drama, its main character never facing a situation that doesn’t just resolve itself automatically.Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 1.23.12 PMThe whole thing seems to be built on the gimmick. The film is at its cleverest when it’s playing parallel scenes from both realities, with Becky a participant in one scene and merely a witness in the other. But there isn’t much more to it than that. The story may go into two different directions, but they don’t really go anywhere interesting. The film does a poor job of conveying what is being lost in either scenario, mainly because it refuses to really let things get bad for the main character.Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 1.21.23 PMAll the challenges she runs into in this story are pretty mild. In the reality where she gets to travel, she’s supposed to struggle with the choice of leaving her family and letting go of her responsibilities. But her family does okay without her, and she doesn’t really seem to be missing anything important. In the reality where she stays, she’s supposed to have given up her dream of traveling. But in this thread, she gets to travel anyway. The whole point might be that regardless of what path we choose, things will turn out all right. That may even be true, but it doesn’t make for a very interesting story.Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 1.11.24 PMThe film accomplishes the dubious feat of making the eminently likable Jodi Sta. Maria seem really annoying. Because of the lack of compelling conflict in her narrative, Becky comes off as melodramatic and entitled. She shares precious little chemistry with either of her leading men. Of the two, Xian Lim at least looks more comfortable taking on his role. Joseph Marco never really bridges the narrative gap between his character and being annoyed with Becky and being in love with her. It is as if the character can only feel one emotion at a time.Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 1.24.36 PMDear Other Self tells two boring stories in one boring movie. The final circumstances of each reality presented in the movie may seem different, but they are equivalent in terms of their lack of genuine drama. Nothing is a big deal in this movie. The main character is never confronted with a problem that isn’t solved for her somehow. She is told more than once in this movie that she shouldn’t be so dramatic, because the things she’s worried about aren’t really as a big a deal as she thinks they are. And they’re correct, which is the real problem. It’s all much ado about nothing.

Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.