Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes tells the story of two women struggling with their respective marriages. Lianne (Judy Ann Santos) believes that her husband Gary (Joross Gamboa) is having an affair with a co-worker. Cindy (Angelica Panganiban) is doing everything she can to be the perfect wife for Felix (JC de Vera), whose mother (Carmi Martin) is bringing all sorts of pressure to their relationship. It turns out that Gary and Felix are having an affair together. Lianne and Cindy are brought together by this awkward circumstance, and the two team up to track down their husbands and attain some manner of closure, and perhaps a little retribution.
This is a broad, rather delightful comedy that entertains while being remarkably thoughtful in its dissection of a modern dilemma. At almost every point in this movie, it is able to lend support and credence to characters embracing their true selves in the pursuit of love, while never diminishing the anger felt by those they ended up leaving behind. It’s a fine balancing act that Invests deeply in the flawed humanity of these characters, the movie in the end stumping for a kind of radical compassion in our approach to the social issues that may be confusing people in these modern times.
This is a pretty zany film, its scenes often built loud, broad bits of comedy. It very much displays what most would think of as a mainstream sensibility, complete with somewhat shrill sound design. But the issues it tackles in the deployment of that comedy are pretty interesting. It should be said that the titular main characters aren’t portrayed as being particularly prejudiced against homosexuality, but the film exposes a certain kind of comfort in not having to deal with those issues directly. With their husbands now part of a community they would say they openly tolerated, they’re forced out of their comfort zones, and confronted with an evolving world that they’ve never really had to understand.
Complicating matters is the fact the two Mrs. Reyes’ aren’t really wrong. The film makes it clear that no one involved in this messy situation is inherently good or bad, or right or wrong. The wives are flailing, holding on to some sense of emotional justice. And the husbands are just doing what people told to do: they’re following their bliss, and being true to themselves. The film finds potent dramatic complexity in the intersection of those ideas, every confrontation a compelling explication of completely valid feelings from both sides of the equation.
It results in a movie that is as thought-provoking as it is funny. And it is very funny. The material itself is packed with some pretty inspired gags, much of it built on the frankness with which these characters talk. But it also helps a lot that the lead actresses are so terrific. Judy Ann Santos is a key to the appeal of this movie, since a lesser actress might not have been able to ground her character’s vindictiveness in something that still feels thoroughly sympathetic. Angelica Panganiban matches Santos beat for beat, landing both the punchlines and the moments of surprisingly profound drama.
Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes feels like a minor miracle, in a way. There are so many pitfalls in the story the film tries to tell, and trying to navigate that tricky terrain with broad comedy doesn’t feel like the most intuitive approach. But the movie deftly weaves through those complex ideas, wielding that very broadness as a catalyst for the discourse that it wants to have. It uses the humor to just put ideas out there, and then it follows through by dissecting it all, by challenging its characters to understand the politics of identity beyond the punchlines. In between the jokes, the film finds room for genuine compassion, and that can be a powerful thing.