My first major issue with Unforgettable is that it does not live up to its title.
The film follows a straightforward storyline: a kind young woman named Jasmine (Sarah Geronimo) returns to her home in Baguio hoping to save her sick Lola Olive (Gina Pareño). Along with her is the spotted dog Happy (celebrity dog Milo) who Jasmine believes can heal her ailing grandmother. Throughout her journey, she encounters several people – mostly cameos of popular celebrities in the country – and shows them impressive albeit overwhelming displays of kindness.
There is nothing wrong with telling simple films. In a society as chaotic as ours, it is sometimes nice to be reminded that good hearts still exist and that there’s still hope to be found in each passing day. How Unforgettable shows this, however, is in a manner that reeks of contrivance, over-simplifying real-world narratives for the sake of a manipulative emotional gut-punch. It uses Jasmine’s developmental disorder as a cheap plot device to make her easily likeable, only choosing the cute parts associated with it (brutal honesty, sharp memory, and affective sympathy, among others) and deliberately removing the dangerous vulnerability linked to most PWDs. Although it is refreshing to see a PWD in a film that is not entirely about their disability, the filmmakers had shrouded Jasmine with middle-class sensibilities, even coming to a point where class differences no longer exist in the narrative, therefore fictionalizing her entire character. Lack of self-reflexivity proves to be the film’s biggest weakness, drowning it in bourgeois fantasies.
These problems can easily be attributed to Unforgettable’s commercial/mainstream mode of production. In its cash-grab attempt at making a feel-good dog movie, it suffers from being utterly predictable and shallow. Jasmine is almost perfect right from the start, so her character development does not leave much to be desired. It follows its formula like a dog following their owner’s commands: cute but lacking any sort of self-determination, a trick that quickly loses its charm.
With that being said, the film still deserves some merit, if only for Sarah Geronimo’s astonishingly tender moments. It takes a while to get used to seeing the OPM superstar in such a challenging role and her acting still feels too calculated in her small scenes, but when she gets to the really emotional (read: iyak-ngawa) parts of the narrative, boy does she deliver. She completely loses her pop persona and lets us drown in Jasmine’s anguish and frustrations. Equally remarkable is her unlikely chemistry with Kim Molina, who plays a supporting role; the development of their friendship is one of the film’s most amusing bits. Though brief and small, Molina’s scenes were of utmost hilarity and rawness and have added much-needed spice to an otherwise bland film.
At the end of the day, Unforgettable is just okay. It is a film satisfied by its low ambitions, which on the one hand is maybe commendable for its self-awareness of the limitations of commercial cinema and good enough as far as escapist entertainment goes for the casual viewer, but on the other, is that really it? What’s the point in making films without taking risks?