Of course I Miss You Like Crazy had everything going for it. We still remember Popoy and Basha of One More Chance, even know some lines from the movie, and even now speak of UST’s soccer field in relation to it. The three-month rule of breakups has now become law, seeing as Popoy invoked it when he thought Basha had found another guy (and kailangan talaga si Derek Ramsey and mapagsususpetsahang bagong boyfriend). And their barkada, really, was what made that movie. They were macho and bakla, serious and funny, judgmental and liberal, all at the same time. All these were only allowed by the movie’s well-written script that was real to us all, middle class and unapologetic.
Suffice it to say that One More Chance was enough reason to step out and watch I Miss You Like Crazy. But in the first conversation that Mia and Alex have in the movie, something is so obviously off right away. I look at L who’s watching the movie with me, and we realize, it’s Mia’s laughter. It was uncomfortable, obviously put-on, and undoubtedly lost in translation. It wasn’t trying to be ironic, i.e., hiding the sadness through laughter; nor did it sound like real laughter. Parang bad acting lang?
Pero parang bad storytelling din. Though maganda naman ang premises: Mia is a tired OFW, who’s home to a poor family for Christmas and deals with her problems by writing stuff on tiny rocks and taking ferry rides on the Pasig River; Alex is a tired yuppie who’s stuck in a long-term relationship that had become dictatorial, i.e., girlfriend Daphne dictating what it is he must do, eat, wear, be. Alex takes the ferry as a breather, as an assertion of his simplicity versus the high maintenance life Daphne had created for him.
These premises get lost in what the movie unintentionally makes into a simple one night stand, failing to give rhyme and reason to the possibility of Mia and Alex actually and really falling in love in a span of three days, without any amount of personal history between the two of them. It takes an overly and actively romantic imagination for this to be true: that two people, one in a long-term relationship, the other in between countries, can fall so in love with each other in three days that they can’t let it go.
But in I Miss You Like Crazy, this is precisely the stretch that they want us to take. And it isn’t even a stretch of a month or a year, but a whole five years, if only to fulfill the wisdom of the old (L’s line) that speaks of loves that are important and special, and is all a matter of fate. And here is where the impossibilities of this movie lie: while it’s all romantic to believe in fate, this must be based on real motivations for believable characters, something that this movie doesn’t have.
Mia’s issues aren’t clear at all, but is told us in two scenes: one, when she tells Alex of how her father got paralyzed, and two, when she reconciles with her father in the throes of understanding what it’s like to love two people. Alex’s actions, while motivated by Daphne, isn’t allowed to clearly develop towards wanting out of that relationship. It seemed like he was just discontent for no reason other than the realization that he was happier elsewhere.
These characters in the end, seemed so small, almost tiny, compared to how whole the characters of Basha and Popoy were, how clearly motivated, how familiar and different. But then again, the world in I Miss You Like Crazy is very very small. Such as this: across a huge Malaysian park Alex will see the piece of stone that Mia leaves on one non-descript park bench; in the midst of Manila traffic on the way to Divisoria, Mia’s jeep is stuck beside Alex’s car; at any given point, Alex knows when Mia will be waiting to ride the ferry.
And really, the world is so small, because there is no sense of space here. They move from Manila to Malaysia, and there doesn’t even seem to be a difference,save for Mia’s Malaysian fiancée and his daughter. They ride the ferry on the Pasig River, without giving us a sense of where they embark and where they get off. They show Mia riding a ferry in Malaysia, and it isn’t even clear where that’s at. If the point was to show us that love knows no borders, then really, this is not only unrealistic, it’s a failure.
Which is really all that we can say about I Miss You Like Crazy, a story that seems less complicated than it’s made out to be. And in which case, more problematic as a romance than even the Kim Chiu-Gerald Anderson movie Paano Na Kaya?
That is saying a lot about, or very little for, this movie.