‘The Significant Other’ is Completely Insignificant
The latest film to tackle infidelity fails to find any meaning in the madness
The Significant Other concerns Nicole, a small-town girl trying to make it big as a model in Manila. A manager advises her to go to a cosmetic surgeon to have a large birthmark removed. She is referred to Edward (Tom Rodriguez), who flirts with her as they have their sessions together. Soon enough, Nicole becomes pretty infatuated with the doctor. Unfortunately, it turns out that Edward is married. Worse yet, it just so happens that his wife is Maxene (Lovi Poe), a recently returned model that Nicole greatly admires, and someone who has just recently become a close friend and a mentor.
It is actually challenging to articulate the ways in which this movie is terrible. At times, it feels like the creators are just playing a joke on us, or are acting on dares to go lower, to find new depths of cinematic laziness. This is the only way in which the movie could be considered daring. It is drowning in banality, in spite of the fact that its infidelity plot is contrived to ridiculous lengths. It is badly produced and horribly acted, its very presence in our cinemas an indictment on the industry that allowed any of this to happen.
As with all of these infidelity films, the whole point seems to be getting women to deliver labored withering lines to each other. The story is actually told out of order, the movie apparently not patient enough to set things up before getting the women to get to catty bon mots. It then spends a good chunk of its time establishing the elements it just gave away. It devotes much of its narrative contrivances to making sure that Nicole remains blameless in all of this, the young woman kept completely in the dark about the marital status of her new beau.
In order to sell this point, the movie has to sell us on something very strange: a famous model who is apparently able to keep the existence of her husband and child a secret from the public. This is, to put it mildly, stupid. But even if we are to accept it, there is a complete lack of curiosity to Nicole that makes her out to be more naive than a reasonably person should ever be. The question here is who the audience is meant to care about in any of this. The film is very bad at selling us the appeal of any of these characters, or any of these relationships. It’s all so facile, the movie never really putting in the effort to make their interactions feel the slightest bit meaningful.
The title of the movie is actually an indication of this. The film plays that phrase as something important in these relationships, as the very height of commitment and romance. Never mind that this isn’t actually something that a real person would say, much less value. It’s just something the movie can toss out and pretend is meaningful. None of the actors come out looking good in this mess. Lovi Poe, Erich Gonzalez and Tom Rodriguez may as well be replaced by mannequins, as that is about the level of emotion that they are able to get out of the material.
The Significant Other feels like a trick that’s being played on the audience. We have been promised a movie, and we are instead treated to a pile of garbage; one that wasn’t even lovingly assembled. It feels like a bunch of professionals cranked out a film in their spare time, caring little for the actual quality of the final product, and pawned it off to an unwitting public as something worthy of taking up space in cinemas. It is the kind of awful that is genuinely baffling. There are many bad films, but there are few that express such a deep, insulting level of apathy.
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.