You don’t need an addiction to relate
It hasn’t been long since On Vodka, Beers and Regrets premiered in local cinemas across the country…but as much as I wanted to catch it on the big screen, I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who got a theater seat. But hey, it’s on Netflix now and I clicked on that trending thumbnail as quickly as I saw it.
On Vodka, Beers and Regrets follows the life of Jane (Bela Padilla), a used-to-be successful actress on a downward spiral of alcohol and recklessness. One night of binge drinking, she meets Francis (JC Santos), the frontman of a not-exactly-known band. He takes care of her that night…and so many more nights (and early mornings) thereafter.
Do they fall in love? Of course they do. Does it make her ditch the bottles? Psh—sorry, kids, but love does not solve everything.
First things first, I love it when a Filipino movie captures a real story. Not everyone meets a rich good looking person to whisk them away from whatever situation they’re in; there are more struggles in life than having to appease your future in laws and overcoming societal divisions. Not all of us are charming; we’re flawed not because of our pasts or familial baggage, but because of present difficulties and the whole not-being-able-to-look-at-ourselves-in-the-mirror-with-a-smile-on-our-face thing.
And for those ready to throw stones at me: I mean no harm here (I loved It Takes A Man And A Woman as much as the next person), but it’s sometimes difficult to relate to stories such as these.
Next: Bela and JC, while as a love team are not as strong as I would have liked, do give individually moving performances. They each have their moments to shine: Jane admitting she has a problem instead of using her problem to run away from her life, Francis coming clean on what he can and cannot offer her and how tired he gets from loving her.
The dialogue, while it has all the potential to be too much, steers clear of cheesy lines and unnatural prophetic moments. The conversations are succinct but meaningful and completely noteworthy.
But what I really want to talk about is Jane. Addicted, proud, disinterested and just done with it Jane. Her in her rollercoaster of a journey, in all her highs and her lows, and for all those moments I questioned her and she disappointed me.
The truth is that I saw myself in her, and I know that many of you will find yourselves in the character, too. It isn’t about the alcoholism and it isn’t not even about finding love; it's about hitting rock bottom and finding there's so much more depth to get through. It's about finding that one day of pure happiness to only get home and face the eerie moments of silence and confrontation and the realization that “Hey, this is your real life.” It's having the courage and respect and willpower to dig yourself back up in the hope that admitting your issues, while scary, will only help in the long run—and that asking people or opening up to people doesn't have to be a bad thing; it isn't a sign of weakness.
We always look for representation in entertainment: someone that looks like us, is from our rung on the social ladder, is of our gender identity and orientation. It's unfortunate that not all of us can look like Bela, but the character she plays are a different story.
Catch On Vodka, Beers and Regrets on Netflix.
Art Alexandra Lara