Starting Over Again is a manipulative piece that capitalizes on the roller-coaster ride of emotions it brings to its willing audience. It actually works for its intentions with its strong lines and commercial flair. In its own terms, it finds a decent way of presenting a relatable resolution without resorting to the usual fairy-tale ending. However, it features an uneven mix of sincere and machinating elements that mar its storytelling with some annoying and pretentious moments.
This romantic comedy directed by Olivia Lamasan utilizes a contemporary milieu in examining the ups and downs of facing a relationship’s endings and new beginnings. The narrative opens with the dawn of a fun and exciting love story between a bubbly architecture student who will do anything for her guy to notice her and the hunky history professor she deadly admires. Her efforts to scream her heart out around the campus pay off as she finally captures his heart, leading to years of a beautifully romantic relationship. But despite their passionate feelings for each other, personal goals and frustrations and family pressure suddenly breaks them up without any form of closure.
Their separation opens up enough space for each of them to shine in their chosen careers until they finally meet again in an unexpected professional venture. In no time, their unfinished business from many years back starts shaking their present lives. Although he is already in a new relationship, this doesn’t stop her from winning him back. The promising architect takes the turn of events as a sign to rekindle old flame, while the now accomplished chef, a very different man from how she knew him before, uses her motives to play along and push her regrets of leaving him without any explanation. Their actions take a toll when they are forced to face their painful past, which left them with plenty of unresolved questions.
The story features a slow start. Its first half focuses on familiarly fun and light moments that really invest on what the viewers should expect for such a mainstream flick. The scenes take their time until the more emotional undertakings pour in halfway through. As the dramatic elements start picking up, an overload of cliches pulls the strings for soap opera-like proceedings, which turn out as an anti-thesis to the more unconventional structure initiated by the film’s first half.
The turning point leading the narrative towards its climax becomes so annoyingly lame in its execution. The post-closure sequence also cheaply maneuvers around and forces itself for the sake of commercial value, especially for non-fans who would rather see a more relevant and unexploitative way of stringing the story’s escapist components together. This clearly tarnishes the level of maturity the film offers on screen.
Toni Gonzaga’s brutally assertive but charming Ginny generally works for the script’s needs. However, she looks ever so glamorized on screen even during unnecessary moments with an always fully made-up face and hair in practically all her scenes. Piolo Pascual as Marco carries a fitting personality for his calm and loving gentleman character. Iza Calzado significantly shines in her supporting role as Patty, Marco’s present girlfriend. She consistently puts substance to her critical character as a sophisticated, polished and secure woman in a relationship challenged by her man’s unfinished past.
A tale about mistakes, wrong decisions and moving on, this movie clearly explores the nuances people encounter when pushing, folding or accepting what has been and what should be done after a bad breakup. Its dramatic flavor promotes the possibilities of second chances with its unlikely mix of fine and awkward scenes. Meanwhile, its comedic flavor relies on stereotypes and star power to bring plenty of laughs for its target market.