There’s no point saying otherwise: All You Need Is Pag-Ibig is an attempt to make a Pinoy Love Actually. Written and directed by Antoinette Jadaone, AYNIP is an assortment of interconnected love stories among tangentially related individuals who believe that their pursuing of romantic love would lead them to their finding happiness in the bustling metropolis.
The premise is introduced by an animated sequence about a heart that feels exhausted because the entire world was obsessed with romantic love. The heart complains about this to God, whose solution was to create different kinds of love. The end. Though the use of animation has become a director trademark of Jadaone (who has previously used it in Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay, That Thing Called Tadhana, and even in her hit TV show “On the Wings of Love”), its usage here felt jarring because it comes without warning and then ends abruptly without offering any follow through. (“Did the heart not get tired anymore?”) Toward the movie’s end, the audience will see the story turned into a book without any explanation, igniting the suspicion that this is just an elaborate marketing ploy.
As is the case in most anthologies, the assortment of narratives gives AYNIP an uneven overall tone. Whether it be caused by contractual obligations to screen time, a rushed production (movie almost didn’t push through because Kris Aquino initially backed out), or a weak script, the different episodes did not quite mesh together as satisfyingly as it should, especially if it was striving for Love Actually. The reason why Love Actually worked is because the stories complemented one another in that one character’s subplot impacts another’s. One example to prove this point: Sam’s persistence for Joanna inspires Daniel to have a second try at love. In AYNIP, the characters are connected for no reason other than circumstance. To wit, a tutor is employed by a single mom whose child is a student of a teacher who pines for her ex. It’s all very convenient, but the movie is clever enough to not dwell on their interconnectedness.
Thankfully, the movie’s inadequacies are well compensated for by the competent cast, particularly the pairing of Ian Veneracion and Jodi Sta. Maria, whose strong chemistry is exemplified by their mere glances at each other. Another strong pairing is that of Nova Villa and Ronaldo Valdez, but they are not given enough time to fully realize the gravitas of their storyline. Xian Lim and Kim Chiu are well-matched in that Xian needs to express more emotions while Kim has to take it down a notch. General public opinion states that Kris Aquino is less annoying in this movie, but her character, aptly named Love, is used mainly as a transitional device. Bimby Aquino-Yap is proof that nepotism should be discouraged, while Derek Ramsay has barely anything to do. Of the entire cast, Pokwang probably drew the short straw, as her scenes are sporadic at best even if her subplot is arguably the most heart-wrenching.
At every turn, All You Need Is Pag-Ibig highlights that there are different kinds of love in this world but sublimely imparts that the most important kind of love is the love of oneself, and only with which can one be truly content, and therefore, happy.