Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Temptation of Wife: A Review

Tonight, viewers witnessed the pilot episode of the Philippine remake of Temptation of Wife. The original Korean series was well-loved by Filipino viewers, so to a certain extent, many are expecting this remake to be better or at least at par with the original. However, the news of major changes to the story sent shockwaves to fans who wanted the remake to be as faithful as possible to the original. When the first teasers were released, many frowned upon them because they failed in comparison with the glossy teasers of a TV program on ABS-CBN. But today, Temptation of Wife proves that while it is a retelling of the original hit, there is so much promise to this old tale of friendship, betrayal, love, and revenge.

Cinematography. The TV series uses a multi-camera setup and employs many long, steadicam, and tracking shots, and the staple extreme close-ups in Philippine TV dramas. While some scenes could have employed more non-traditional camera angles and shots, when the show uses these non-traditional strategies, they are effective in expressing the emotions and meanings intended. Such examples include the long shot of the Salcedo Mansion and the University, and the bird’s eye view perspective on Marcel and his mom Stella (Cherie Gil).

 Marcel drives his convertible to school.

 The Salcedo Mansion.

In addition, there were scenes that employed a shallow depth of field, in effect, putting focus on the subjects and blurring out everyone else in the background and the foreground. Aside from camera work, locations were carefully selected to showcase a distinction in social class, or to help reinforce the meaning of a particular scene. Nevertheless, the show has its flaws. At times, camera work seemed dizzying. There were also scenes where cinematic techniques such as master shots and long shots seemed inappropriate and in turn made the scenes look static. Commendable, though, was the show’s use of high-definition film cameras that made the show look crisp and glossy.

Music. The original Korean hit is probably well-remembered for its perky and highly-emotional instrumental music. The remake retained the original music and added some really good ones. The vocal track used as a background to a pivotal scene involving two of the leads, Angeline Santos (played by Marian Rivera) and Marcel Salcedo (portrayed by Dennis Trillo), was very emotional. The song, sung by Kyla, sounded a bit like Mariah Carey’s My All or Regine Velasquez-Alcasid’s Sa Aking Pag-iisa, though there’s not much surprise there because she has has a vocal timbre similar to the two divas.

Sound Editing. For the first time in a local soap opera, the characters’ voices are not drowned in and by the ambient noises. The actors’ dialogs are crisp and audible, and there is a clear distinction between the background sounds, background music and the dialogs. There is also a depiction of distance and depth. Thus, sound editing is truly remarkable.

Screenplay. While it is an adaptation, there were several changes made to the remake, much to the dismay of the show’s original fans. Many of these alterations to the original story were made in order to adapt the show to a more emotional Filipino society. Thus, flashback scenes involving the childhood of Angeline and Heidi Fernandez (Glaiza De Castro), which were not in the original, had to be injected in the remake to provide a more Pinoy flavor to the series. However, there are many drawbacks to having used this device in the pilot. The use of flashbacks made the first part of the pilot episode seem to drag a bit, striking a sharp comparison with the pace of the second half. In fact, the entire episode could have survived without the entire flashback.

Young Angeline combs the hair of young Heidi in a flashback scene.

Nevertheless, the pace of the second half is commendable. The writers managed to narrate the story spanning days, weeks and months in minutes. Aside from the pace, the use of several narration and literary devices is likewise praiseworthy. For example, the breaking of several wine glasses and the falling of linens in the opening scenes as well as the fireworks display at the end reinforced the meaning, emotion and drama of the succeeding scenes. While the revenge plot is one that is tried-and-tested, since there will be departures from the original Korean, these changes must be done to improve the quality of the story. Thus, writing should be very consistent so that the plot will not be convoluted, as is the case in many Philippine TV dramas.

Glasses break as if warning the crowd of an impending tempest between the leads, Angeline and Heidi.

Angeline faces Heidi at a party while linens fall in the background.

Fireworks at a New Year's Eve Party as Angeline reveals she is carrying Marcel's child.

Wardrobe and costume design. The show takes a cue from the Korean original with regard to the characters’ fashion sense. Angeline dresses simply and is often in a school uniform. Rich bachelor Marcel, on the other hand, is shown to be sporting vests, polo shirts and bow ties, making him look like an Ivy League scholar. Stella Salcedo (Cherie Gil), is also simply dressed, though, she is more elegant than Angeline because her clothes are so much more expensive. And in a similar fashion, social class distinction is portrayed by how each of the character is dressed. A standout character is Romeo Salcedo (Raymond Bagatsing), who sports retro fashion. At times, his fashion sense makes him look awkward, but it pretty much jives with the personality Bagatsing portrays.

Though simply dressed, Cherie Gil embodies class as Stella Salcedo.

Acting. As expected, commendable performances were delivered by Trillo (as Marcel), De Castro (as Heidi), Gil (as Stella), Bagatsing (as Romeo) and Rivera (as Angeline).

Angeline fondly remembers Marcel's courtship in some flashback scenes.

In particular, Rivera effectively depicted the innocence and frailty of the show’s protagonist, Angeline. She carefully and powerfully musters all the innocence within her to appropriately portray her role of a simple woman who eventually vows vengeance against those who wrong her.

Heidi attempts to digest the fact that Marcel may not be the man for her.

De Castro is also highly commendable for her role. While she is not new to portraying antagonistic roles, her character, Heidi, is a cut above all the anti-hero roles she has portrayed as she has never been this convincingly evil or tempting. And though the child actors appeared only very briefly, they were very effective. There is also a striking similarity in the facial features of the young Heidi (Mary Joy Gula) and De Castro.

Editing. In terms of continuity of scenes, Temptation of Wife has little areas of opportunity. The show uses fades and wipes or even a change in background music to depict a change in scene or a switch to a flashback.

Direction. On the whole, the show is really only as good as its director. So far, for a first episode, it seems as if Temptation of Wife is the best that Dominic Zapanta has handled.

While Temptation of Wife shows great promise because of a good first episode, it does have its share of opportunity areas that need to be addressed in order for the show to be consistently good, and for it not to fall prey to a decline in quality in succeeding episodes.


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