WTF ASIA 182: The Third Party (2016)

A woman gets pregnant by a man who runs off with her money, and the only people who can help her is her ex-boyfriend and his boyfriend. Okay, so…the poster below is a bit misleading.

Available in AustraliaCanadathe United Kingdomthe United States, and perhaps a few other countries.

 

 

It is 2009 and Andrea Claire Ferrer “Andi” Medina’s life is a little loud. She lives with her aunt and…everyone else, who is already up and getting ready for work or school that morning.

Well, I guess that everyone other than Andi’s cousin had finished breakfast by the time that she started. Andi’s aunt offers her some cash for her college enrollment that day. Andi says that she had saved up some money from her part-time job, but her aunt insists, claiming that Andi’s mother has been ignoring her calls since last week. Andi…thanks her for the money. But Aunt is on a roll, complaining about how her sister is probably living it up in Luciana. And when her daughter Badet tells her that it is pronounced “Louisiana”, Aunt starts giving her crap about getting pregnant.

When Aunt leaves (and a third girl named Eka comes over for breakfast), Andi asks Badet if she really wants to keep the baby; whether she and her boyfriend Atoy can really take care of a child at their age. Badet says that they will try due to their love for each other. Then she turns it around on Andi: would she get an abortion? And that piece of obvious foreshadowing ends the scene.

Andi is at the university, trying to pay tuition, only to see that the fee has gone up. It seems that she had missed the announcement last week. Either way, she claims that the fees go up every year, but nothing improves. The other students behind her seem to be on the verge of revolt (or pushing her out of the way for taking up so much time) when her boyfriend Max intervenes and offers to pay the difference. Apparently, she has 5000 pesos left to pay, which is just under 100 USD now, though I am not sure about 2009. Andi says that she can pay, but Max insists.

In return, Andi pays for their lunch…of 40. She is still hung up on him coming in to help her out. They have been together for a year and her need for independence keeps bumping up against his need to be helpful. Just give him a call and he will be there.

 

 

 

The movie skips to 2010 and Andi is graduating. She does not appear to be too happy about it when she is on the stage, but here comes Max from another ceremony, just in time to see her up there. She sees him and NOW she smiles.

After the ceremony is over, Andi hugs Max, his parents, and his sister. Calling her his future daughter-in-law, Max’s father says that he hopes that she will still be here when Max returns from the States. Max’s sister, Lila, says that it would be a few years. And, wait…how long have Andi and Max been together? Eighteen months, maybe? But she tells Andi that she believes that they can make a long-distance relationship work. Andi…uh…was not told about any of this.

I guess that an hour or so has passed and Max and Andi are alone. Max apologizes for not having told her. But he got accepted into medical school in San Diego and his mother wants him to study there. He promises that it will be only for a few years, that he will call every day and visit over Christmas break. Andi has not even turned around to look at him until he begs her to say something. She congratulates him on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and tells him to go. And, without mentioning the whole secrecy thing, says that it is better to break things off now than to try to drag out a long-distance relationship until they drift apart. Max does not want to break up, so Andi dumps him. They hug and she walks off…to go to her aunt’s home and tearfully eat what I assume is ice cream.

 

 

 

It is 2014 JESUS, MOVIE! It has not even passed the 10-minute mark. Okay, it is 2014. Andi arrives at a restaurant to meet Eka and Eka’s boyfriend, Ben. She is a bit distracted by last minute details to a party that she is organizing as part of her job, but family is family. Eka screams that they are getting engaged and Andi screams too…but more because Max just sent her a text message to say that he is returning from the States. Oh…Eka is confused. Andi’s ex from four years ago? Now, it is her turn to calm down Andi.

Andi goes to meet Max at the night club, ready for a hot reunion. She struts up towards him at the bar, ignoring everyone else, including the guy who spits out his drink behind her.

Okay, their actual initial meetup is a little anticlimactic. It is a little slow and awkward. But it goes pretty much as one would expect, until Max tells her that he wants her to meet someone. Andi’s smile falls. Who?

Oh…

So Max introduces Andi to Christian. Andi tries to keep smiling, though it is now more ambivalent than before. But, hey, she was probably expecting some White girl or something. And…then Max says it: Christian is his boyfriend.

Well…

And then Max tells Christian that this is his good friend, Andi.

And…Andi runs off. Max catches up to her and…uh…she yells at him, using a…uh…a slur. And she…erm…let’s say “asks” him whether he was gay when he was with her.

After…maybe a minute, he is able to start explaining that he was alone and scared when he arrived in the States, still not over the breakup. He met Christian in med school and Christian was there for him through the difficult times. And Max fell in love with him. His sister is the only other person here whom he has told and he cannot tell his parents. Disregarding her virulently homophobic tantrum from the previous paragraph, he says that trusts Andi and knows that she will understand. And he still needs her to be part of his life, now more than ever. She asks if he really loves Christian, and he says very much.

As Christian finds them, Andi reluctantly agrees to help Max and be friends. And then she…rather passive aggressively holds out her hand to Christian and introduces herself. The awkward conversation resumes, even slower now.

Back home, Andi is less cordial. She gathers three photographs of Max (she still had them after all this time?), cuts his face out of them, and sticks them on the body of Lady Gaga to make some kind of collage. Then she repeats “Lady Gaga” a bunch of times while holding up the collage and…I am not sure if that is meant to calm her down or for her to remind herself that the woman who proclaimed “You’re Orient” is a supporter of gay rights. Whatever the case may be, she is still doing it when the scene ends.

Max is at the hospital, in a doctor’s coat…and all of the women stare as he walks down the hallway. Max is there too, also turning heads, and…oh, it’s 2016?? Dagnabbit, movie. How many more time jumps will there be? Well, since this movie was released in 2016, I shall assume that this is supposed to be either the present or only a few months in the past. Anyways, they work in the same hospital. Okay, that is the scene.

 

 

So, Andi is in her apartment, on the phone with someone named Charlene regarding moving to Australia and getting into the event business there. Judging by the photos by her bedroom mirror, she has a boyfriend. Charlene says that she needs more time to work out the permits and working visa and other requirements, but she will have it ready by next year for certain. And there is the placement fee of around 2000 USD, which Andi says she will take care of. Charlene is skeptical, but Andi claims that she has been saving for it.

Andi is barely off the phone when she receives another call. Who is it? It is her mother. She hangs up. She gets another call. It is ready. Whatever it is, Andi leaves her apartment, trying to dodge the landlady who claims that she is way overdue on her rent.

Christian is helping a boy recover from a bone graft. The boy’s mother tells Christian that he interacts well with kids and will be a great father. Meanwhile, Max is…uh…consulting with a woman regarding new breast implants and she starts flirting with him pretty overtly. He politely turns her down.

Andi is at the party that she organized and…I guess that the people are having fun. Sure. She seems to be putting on a fake smile while exhausted. But…job well done; she can relax. Suddenly, her assistant runs up to her. She could not get in touch with Andi’s boyfriend, Inigo. Apparently, Inigo did not pay rent for the venue and the club manager wants everyone out. Andi tells her to pay the manager with the money from the tickets. And what about her own pay? Andi offers her own cut to the assistant and tells her not to worry.

Andi calls up Inigo and asks about the money. But a woman picks up and says that Inigo does not want to talk. The woman says that she is Inigo’s girlfriend. What?? She tells Andi that the two of them are going to Toronto. The Inigo takes the phone. He apologizes for stealing the money, but explains that he needed it to go to Canada. Then he kind of blames her for falling in love with him when she should have known better. But, he (probably insincerely) tries to reassure her that she will find someone.

Andi returns to the apartment to find her clothes in the hallway and a padlock on the door. So…she moves back in with her aunt…and there appears to be even more people in that house than in the start of the movie. It is not all family, though. For example, someone is renting Andi’s old room, which is why her aunt can offer her only the couch. Andi says that it is okay, perhaps she can crash at Eka’s place. Her aunt offers her some cash. Andi thanks her…even though it is not enough.

Andi meets Eka at a restaurant. Eka says that she is staying at Ben’s and his mother does not approve. Wait…are they not married yet? Andi is obviously upset, but says that it is okay, just that her aunt’s place is so crowded. Eka asks about Inigo, and Andi explains that he left for Canada with the money from the event, so her boss fired her. And got her blackballed from the…event business. Eka says that she knew from the first time that she laid eyes on him that he was a scammer. But what about Australia, she asks? Andi cannot answer, because she has to run to the bathroom to vomit. Does she? I dunno, but she certainly gags into the sink.

Christian has put out balloons and candles for the anniversary. Max is confused, as the anniversary is tomorrow, but Christian says that he wanted to celebrate it now. Also, Christian’s parents wish them a happy anniversary on a video call. Noticing that Max looks stressed, Christian’s mother tells her son to take care of him. After they end the call, Max says that he wishes that his parents were like Christian’s.

Still in the restaurant bathroom, Andi takes three pregnancy tests: all positive. She starts stress laughing to Eka. She cannot be pregnant with her life in shambles. And what does she know about parenting? She does not even know her own father and her mother abandoned her to get with guys all around the world. Eka tries to get her to calm down which, of course, backfires. Andi starts talking about abortion. Eka does not want that talk, but what other option does Andi have?

Cut to Max and Christian taking down the balloons. After three years, Christian says, people talk about their next steps. Wait…only three years? I thought that it would be at least four. Well, anyways, Christian says that he has been talking with an adoption agency. Max still seems unenthusiastic about what he sees as taking care of some stranger’s kid. The discussion quickly shifts to Max not having told his parents about Christian, despite them being together for three years.

Christian is ready to go to sleep angry when Andi rings the doorbell. They let her in and she gives them the very short version of the story. Since they are doctors, she figures that they can do…something…about this. Max says that they don’t do…that…and they can’t. Christian says that it is against their code of ethics and their licenses can get revoked. When Andi insists that she cannot take care of a child, Christian offers to let her sleep on the couch and talk with them about it the next day after she has had more time to think. So, the botched third anniversary party gets interrupted by the former party planner. Surely, that is what the movie title means.

After a night’s sleep, Andi still wants an abortion. Christian asks what if he and Max adopt the baby. While Max is as caught off guard at this as Andi is, Christian calls this great coincidence must be a sign from the universe. Christian points out that she is not a stranger, as Max had said earlier.

Andi is not quite sold. She has to bear this for nine months without even a place to stay? Christian says that she can stay in the vacant unit next door and they will pay the rent. And take care of her other expenses until the birth. Andi says that she feels like this is selling her baby for food and accommodations, but after getting another 200 USD out of it, she and Christian shake on it. Max, who had promised Andi seven years ago that he would help her out always, is unsure about all of this. But the deal is done.

 

 

 

 

 

The Philippines seems to have quite a few LGBTQ+ movies and this was, I suppose, an entry point of sorts. It has the vibe of a romantic comedy drama, but most of the romance parts are skipped over, focusing more on relationships or fallouts. Despite its occasional profanity and subject matter, it is overall a rather safe feel-good movie.

Christian and Max, while not necessarily interesting characters on their own, are at the very least not insulting stereotypes to be laughed at. Nor is their situation one of doom and gloom. They are rich and beloved. While Max does worry about how his parents will react if they knew, he is an independent adult who can probably take care of himself. Again, this is mostly a story about personal relationships. I would not expect a movie released so soon after the election of Rodrigo Duterte to be something to push back upon the social order while being as financially successful as it was. So, are they relatable characters? Eh…maybe.

Really, though, Andi is the star of this. She is brash, she is ambitious, she is romantic, she is independent, she is a little resentful when she finds that she has to ask for help from others, but she is not above trying to get more out of anyone who insists on offering help. She tries to be good, but she is heavily flawed, and not always likeable, particularly that homophobic tirade. Even when she does do good, she may gripe about it in private later on.

The first minute of the movie has her wake up alone to just noise noise noise. And then after that, she has to navigate through maybe a dozen people to get to breakfast, where a couple of character flit in and out of the scene. Without knowing exactly who will be important to the movie itself, one is pretty much forced to focus on Andi and how she relates to them.

The movie revolves around the chaos that happens to Andi, which she sometimes tries to avoid turning around on everyone else. She was raised by a single mother, not knowing who her father was at all. Then when she was maybe two-thirds of the way through university, her mother simply left. This resulted in Andi having to stay with her aunt in the first place. Andi’s mother was probably unreliable before this. Between that and an absent father, Andi probably grew up with an independent streak and a hesitancy to lean on others for support.  

It is only until Max shows up that we find some sort of anchor in Andi’s life, an anchor that she does not completely feel comfortable with. I joked about the many time-jumps in the first twenty minutes of this, but it had its own chaotic charm. The first timeline just shows that her regular life is a bit of a mess except with Max. The first jump shows him lifting the anchor a bit without having told her, and her response is to cut. The next jump has Max coming back, and showing that, despite having dumped him, Andi still held a torch for him. And that goes…really badly and Andi does not take it well. Then the next jump shows her life falling apart completely thanks to a jerk of a boyfriend, so she has to turn back to her former anchor for help.

This movie is…kind of…broad…contrived…and not very subtle…or deep…and it goes for rather simple solutions to difficult problems. And, despite all the talk of sex, it seems so chaste that I was not sure whether there would even be a kiss between Christian and Max…there is, but it comes pretty late in the movie. Still, there were some surprises. Despite Max clearly being bisexual non-canonically, I was unsure whether the movie would confirm it in the dialog. It did. The term “gender fluidity” was thrown out, though the scene kind of ended there before we got to know whether it was used properly.

In addition to that, I found the movie to be kind of enjoyable in regards to the plot. In addition to the chaotic nature of the early parts, I felt that the story kept going back and forth between points of no choice and points of many choices. When Andi gets fired, blackballed, and thrown out of her apartment, she tries to get find alternate housing with her friend, only to get denied. Her last resort is to return to her aunt’s overcrowded place. Not much of a choice. Then, suddenly, Christian provided her with a choice. Now, obviously, the movie was leading up to this, given the title. Still, after this point, I genuinely had no idea what would happen next.

So much happens that I could never really guess what would happen next. I am not saying that it was not predictable, just that and there were so many multiple ways that the characters could have believably responded, taking the movie in different directions. You could possibly predict correctly what could happen, but it would be one of several predictions. Sure, that could be said for…every story told, but the chaotic vibe and the uncertainty of the characters here that it seems like a universe of possibilities are provided to the characters. That they choose only one path at a time is the fault of time going in only one direction. Other possibilities seem to be lightly considered before being discarded. There was one particular path that I figured would be interesting, but I figured the movie would not go down and…in retrospect, it is probably for the best that it didn’t. I swear that I was not high while watching the movie or typing this.

One little odd thing was that…okay. So, the Philippines was under the control of the United States for…a while…so of course the English language and English words would be spoken in regular conversations in certain places. But Max seemed to be the only one with a pronounced American accent. It appears that the actor was born in America and, yes, Max had spent four years in America, but his way of speaking English stood out amongst the rest. Just a little thing. Maybe there are people born and raised in the Philippines who speak like that, but…I don’t know…

In any case, I like this movie. It…yeah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WTF ASIA 183: Princess From The Moon (Japan 1987, approx. 121 minutes)

Wikipedia

Available in Canadathe United States, and perhaps a few other countries.

 

 

WTF ASIA 1843: The Uninvited (South Korea 2003, approx. 128 minutes)

Wikipedia

Available in Canadathe United States, and perhaps a few other countries.