‘Exes Baggage’ Movie Review: A grounded depiction of the horrors of infatuation


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*Minor Spoilers Ahead*

Marking the reteaming of former love team, Angelica Panganiban and Carlo Aquino, “Exes Baggage” tackles the romantic relationship gone bad between Nix, a furniture designer, and Pia, a broker. Meeting in a bar one night, the two eventually falls in love with each other. But they soon realize that while quicky jumping into a committed relationship is easy, staying together when the honeymoon phase is over is a so much more difficult, especially when they’re both still dealing with the ghosts of their previous relationships.
Carlo Aquino as Nix and Angelica Panganiban as Pia in ‘Exes Baggage’

Carlo Aquino as Nix and Angelica Panganiban as Pia in ‘Exes Baggage’
Carlo Aquino as Nix and Angelica Panganiban as Pia in ‘Exes Baggage’/Star Cinema

Directed by Dan Villegas, with the screenplay written by Dwein Baltazar, “Exes Baggage” highlights the need to fully heal from the hurt brought by a failed relationship before jumping into a new one because one can never really start over without wiping out the slate clean.

Carlo Aquino as Nix and Angelica Panganiban as Pia in ‘Exes Baggage’
Carlo Aquino as Nix and Angelica Panganiban as Pia in ‘Exes Baggage’/Star Cinema

GAINS:

It would be an understatement to say that the main selling point of the film is Panganiban and Aquino’s team-up - whether that be because their real-life history blends well with the film’s theme or the two’s impeccable acting. They easily sold the idea that a random night-out can easily lead into a passionate love affair. The attraction between Nix and Pia from the get-go was so palpable that it perfectly set-up what would be their whirlwind romance.

Villegas veered away from too produced shots (other than the intimate scene between the lead characters at the start of the film) giving it a very realistic feel which worked well with the film’s narrative which is both relatable and insightful for many. Overly romanticized scenes were limited and the dialog felt organic given the pair’s personalities.

Further, the structure of the film was solid especially for one that didn’t follow the linear form of storytelling. Utilization of time-warps are tricky, and it could easily mess up the whole plot to the point that at the end of the film, it’s as if nothing was resolved and there was no story arc for the characters (“The Hows of Us” was victim of this), but “Exes Baggage” cleverly used flashbacks as way for the audience to better understand where Pia and Nix were coming from when they started talking about their complicated relationship.

LOSSES:

While Exes Baggage depicted a clear picture of the ups and downs of a real-life relationship, it didn’t go deep enough to establish both Nix’s and Pia’s psyche in an effort to better understand both characters. At one point in the film, Nix talked about Pia having many issues which is something he just couldn’t deal on a regular basis. This was a main contributor to their eventual break-up, but those so-called issues were basically glossed-over except for Pia’s supposed insecurities, which in the end, was revealed to have merit given that he was still hung up with his ex.

All the build up to their hinted reunion felt rushed an unearned. It’s quite difficult to believe that after just a couple of drinks, a short chit-chat and a memory-laden song, they quickly realized that they’re both willing to give their relationship another go despite the fact that they’ve both moved on, with Pia even in what seemed like a good relationship. The transition from awkward exes to flirty ones was so sudden, and by the end of the night, they were both willing to be involved again without even trying to address all the issues that broke them apart in the first place.

At this point, “Exes Baggage” was pretty much caught in the illusion a romantic film trope, which was a shame considering that up until that point, the movie firmly established that its narrative is grounded in reality.

Carlo Aquino as Nix and Angelica Panganiban as Pia in ‘Exes Baggage’
Angelica Panganiban as Pia and Carlo Aquino as Nix in ‘Exes Baggage’/Star Cinema

“Exes Baggage” wasn’t a complete film - because of its cliffhanging ending, but because it felt like while Pia and Nix were both willing to get back together, there’s a mountain of issues that they need to tackle before they get involved with each other again. Whether or not that was the vibe that the folks behind the film was going for remains to be seen, but they sure left the door wide open for a possible sequel.

RATING: 7 out of 10 stars


— ALD, The Summit Express


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