A romantic comedy that seeks to reinforce the love team between singer-turned-actress Sarah Geronimo and Big Brother housemate-turned-matinee idol Gerald Anderson, Raz de la Torre's Won't Last a Day Without You does not stray far from the established story map and intention of a merchandized movie. It is feel-good, fun, funny, and extremely charming, like most of what Star Cinema has been mindlessly producing the past several years. The film is undoubtedly a product of formula, and quite surprisingly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
De la Torre is not exactly a newcomer. He wrote Cathy Garcia-Molina's A Very Special Love (2008) and co-wrote with other writers Garcia-Molina's You are the One (2006) and You Got Me (2007), two romances set in very distinct milieus that somehow added color and novelty to the film's otherwise redundant storylines. In A Very Special Love, a hopelessly hopeful employee falls for her stern boss who is up to prove himself to his family by making his men's magazine number one. In You are the One, the familiar romance is set within the world of bureaucratic red tape, an unfortunate circumstance that fortunately gives a glum American who is looking for his parents the opportunity to meet and fall for a government employee. You Got Me is essentially a love triangle between a lady cop, a nerdy officer, and a thief.
Won't Last a Day Without You, like the rest of the films that De la Torre penned for Garcia-Molina, is set in a very specific niche of the Filipino experience. DJ Haidee (played radiantly by Geronimo) is the heartbreak guru for a late night radio show that gives love advice to romantically challenged insomniacs. At home, she sheds her screen name and becomes George Harrison Apostol, daughter to rock legend Pablo Apostol (Joey de Leon), sister to up and coming rockers, and victim to an ex-boyfriend who replaced her for her best friend. One night like all the other nights where she disparages playboys and heartbreakers on air, she advises Melissa (Megan Young), a listener who becomes fed up with the flirtatious ways of her boyfriend (Anderson), to terminate the relationship, not knowing that that night's advice would lead her to rediscovering the pleasures of falling in love.
The world that De la Torre sets his romance in is addicted to love. This is a world of late-night workers, of students studying in the wee hours of the morning, of night-owls, all of whom spend their evenings either struggling through their current love problems or quenching their thirst for romance through the disembodied voices sharing their misery to the world. This is a world that has gone cynical because of the abundance of heartaches and heartbreaks. It is a world that is ripe and perfect for that sudden change of perspective, a miracle. The film, moving in the way like most romantic comedies of its like do which is predictably towards a happily-ever-after ending instead of a more realistic conclusion, feels apt in its both its manner and motivation. Its insistence on love's perfection is an aberration in its milieu characterized by the advertisement of love's pains and treacheries.
Won't Last a Day Without You culminates in the revelation of DJ Haidee as someone as normal as the rest of the city who rely on her for certain logic in their romance. It climaxes in the revelation of love as not a private concern pertaining only to the lovers involved. It is has other stakeholders. It also involves the rest of the world who are either in love or in love with being in love, rendered into a community by the airwaves that have brought their needs and concerns in overwhelming union. Admittedly, like the Carpenters' song from which it borrows its title, the film is more sap than substance. However, there is definitely nothing stopping anybody from being beholden to its adorable whims and charms.
(Cross-published in Lessons from the School of Inattention.)