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An Honest Review Of 'Open'

Sometimes, there are problems you can't fix, and that's okay.
PHOTO: YouTube/Black Sheep

The Long Plot, Sans Spoilers

Once familiar and comfortable, the 14-year relationship between Rome (Arci Muñoz) and Ethan (JC Santos) is going stale. When Ethan discovers that his best friend is having an open relationship with his fiancée, Ethan takes this as a sign and proposes the idea to Rome. Upon the threat of a looming breakup, she eventually says yes to having no-strings-attached sex with strangers. Along this adventure, they learn things about their relationship, and most importantly, about themselves.

The Short, Honest Plot

Like Taylor Swift said, "Bandaids don't fix bullet holes." Sometimes, there are problems you can't fix, and that's okay. All you need to do is learn and grow from them.

The Actors And Where You Last Saw Them

Arci Muñoz as Rome

Arci Muñoz last starred in the romantic comedy film Last Fool Show (2019). She's currently in the TV series Pamilya Ko (2019), which airs on ABS-CBN.

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JC Santos as Ethan

JC Santos was in the films Mr. And Mrs. Cruz (2018) and The Day After Valentines (2018). You can watch him in two iWant original series, Project Feb 14 (2019) and Call Me Tita (2019).

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Ina Raymundo as Erika

We last saw Ina Raymundo in the Cinemalaya film Kuya Wes (2018). She is also set to appear in the zombie film Block Z.

Vance Larena as Archie

Vance Larena last appeared as Elias in Bakwit Boys (2018). He will also be seen in the upcoming youth thriller film Dead Kids.

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Did You Know?

1. The film helped Arci mend a broken heart when, halfway through filming, she went through a breakup with her longtime boyfriend.

2. Arci identifies with her character Rome. She says in different interviews that like Rome, she's not into open relationships. JC, on the other hand, does not identify at all with Ethan. Like Arci, he's also not into open relationships. 

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3. This is Andoy Ranay's first film in two years. It was also the first time for Arci, JC, and Ina to work together in a film with steamy scenes.

4. Andoy Ranay said in a press con that he found it difficult to shoot the sex scenes. 

5. Arci describes the filming process as a "journey." It took them one year to finish the film, and even had to reshoot a sex scene three times!

What I Think:

Open relationships are not a topic we would usually see in TV series or films. Open does it in a very honest and daring way. From familiarity and comfortability, to boredom and annoyance, the film paints a realistic portrait of a long-time relationship.

The film does not portray open relationships as necessarily good nor bad. We see two types of open relationships in the film. One is successful and is described as the most loving, respectful, and liberating relationship the couple has ever had. The other one is too painful to watch, as we see their relationship continue to deteriorate. This shows that open relationships may be extremely helpful to some couples, but it is not for everyone.

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Of course, it was Arci and JC's performance that made the film so relatable. Their acting is so raw that we feel as if the characters are real people while watching the film. I found myself realizing that their story can be anyone else's story. I also noticed that when it's Arci and JC in a scene, the camera shot shakily, signifying their unstable relationship.

My personal favorite is Rome and Ethan's intense confrontation scene. The way Rome tried so hard to hold her anger in is something a lot of us might be familiar withwhen someone we deeply love does something unforgivable and we finally reach our breaking point, all the pent-up frustrations suddenly come out.

Aside from romantic relationships, healthy friendships are also shown in the film. Archie (Vince Larena) is not your typical best friend character who condones Ethan's bad decisions. In fact, most of the important plot points revolve and happen because of him. This is so unlike most films that use the best friend roles for comedic effect, and someone who only gives advice to the main character. I like how even the supporting roles in Open are multidimensional!

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The complexity of the characters makes them more human. For example, I couldn't COMPLETELY hate Ethan's character throughout the film. Yes, he might have been manipulative at the beginning, but towards the end, he realizes he only loves Rome. He tries to change his ways, but the damage becomes worse. He realizes that it's too late. I also couldn't hate Erika, the woman whom Ethan is fantasizing about, because it's not really her fault why Ethan cheated. Feeling multiple emotions towards one character is a sign of a well-written and thought-out character.

The characters are not the only thing that's well-written, it's also the whole script. The natural exchange of lines added to the rawness and relatability of the film. But what I love the most is no matter how simple the lines are, they always have a punch. When Rome said, "The next person you will love is so lucky," I felt that. Not because she's being sappy or whatnot; it's because, after this experience, Ethan will already be whole and so much ready to love another person. 

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The ending is how I wanted it to be. It does not romanticize the idea of open relationshipsthat everything will work out in the end. It shows that Rome and Ethan tried so hard, and that they did not give up on each other easily. For 14 years, they went through hardships and trials, and they surpassed them. Ethan cheated on Rome before, but she forgave him. When they felt that their relationship was going nowhere, they experimented. They tried and tried to save the relationship until there was nothing left to save anymoreonly themselves. It is a painful ending, but a fulfilling one. The entire film is so heavy, but I left the cinema feeling content.

I'd Recommend It To

  • People who are in rocky relationships. A word of warning, though: This might trigger some feelings. But the film can also introduce new ideas for you and your partner!
  • Those who are plainly curious about open relationships and how they work. You can learn a few life lessons about it from the film and apply them to your life.
  • Those who love romantic comedies, but not the sappy ones. This is a must-watch because it's a different take on the genre. It's not a happy ending for the couple like we always see in rom-coms. But it's a happy ending for them as individuals.
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