‘Of Vodka, Beers, and Regrets’ review: Subtle and sobering
Irene Villamor’s Of Vodka, Beers, and Regrets opens with a funeral. Jane Pineda (Bela Padilla), a former child star whose fame has eroded over time, looks disinterested with all the polite grief and other pleasantries surrounding her during the somber event.
Clearly, she has seen enough of show business life. She proceeds from the death of her manager to live her pathetic life, washing away the stench of her dying acting career with failed auditions, disagreeable attitude, and endless bottles of alcohol.
She chances upon Francis (JC Santos), the lead singer of a band, in one of her nightly drinking sessions. They slowly connect, allowing her a glimmer of hope in her otherwise forlorn existence.
Just another romance
It’s easy to simply think of Of Vodka, Beers and Regrets as just another romance, yet there is more to the picture than a desire to again unduly put love on a pedestal.
Its real interest lies in the faded celebrity of Jane, how it has morphed and mutated her into a creature of stark negativity, one who has become so callous of people’s attention that she just no longer cares, which translates to frequent bouts of misdeeds and ill behavior.
Similar to Sid & Aya: Not a Love Story (2018) where Villamor makes use of a possible romance to show glimpses of humanity in a creature of stark greed and competition, Of Vodka Beers and Regrets filters whatever glamor out of a rundown celebrity, exposing her while she is most vulnerable.
Villamor turns the infamy caused by fadding celebrity into a springboard for a redemption quest through the irresistible grooves of a budding romance.
However, love is far from the end goal of the film as it only offers an option of respite, a likely choice alongside alcohol and other vices. Of Vodka, Beers and Regrets, while alluring because it forwards a premise of love as a remedy to life’s disappointments, never abandons its grip on reality.
It is sober and works hard not to teeter towards being utterly escapist. It dignifies its character whose dignity was stripped from her by years of being a public persona by provoking with quirks and traits that push her away from being a mere stereotype.
Psychology and easy cliches
Padilla is brilliant here.
There is depth in her portrayal of a woman struggling for relevance. She doesn’t simplify the character by pursuing plain bleakness and instead depicts her with a tinge of levity in her acceptance that she is old news, which renders everything even more stirring. Caricature-like takes on privileged has-beens are abound. Padilla’s interpretation of the trope, however, is more grounded on psychology than easy clichés.
It is also a mannered film, elegantly paced from start to end.
Villamor shoots Manila stripped of both the typical grime and gloss, turning it into the most suitable setting to show the most private life of a formerly public figure. Music is sparse, with catchy melodies tastefully accompanying montages. The film gets most of the mood right, allowing the threadbare plot to loudly echo. Simply put, Of Vodka, Beers and Regrets is a beautiful film, through and through.
Of Vodka, Beers and Regrets is lovely.
It is subtle but resounding. Its pains and joys linger longer. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.