December 6 ------ KIt's been a long 20 years since Philippine Megastar Sharon Cuneta fielded an entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival (2023's "Crying Ladies from Unitel Productions), which is why her comeback to the all-Filipino Christmas movie tradition would have to be special.
This year, with her highly esteemed name emblazoned on one of the 10 official entries to the 49th MMFF edition, the beloved actress and singer assured The Manila Times Entertainment that Cineko Productions more than delivered a worthy and remarkable film vehicle for her to join the festival anew, via "Family of Two." Co-starring Alden Richards, another beloved showbiz personality and box office actor, the Megastar's followers and critics shouldn't expect the dramatic grandeur of her career-defining and critically acclaimed films like "Bukas Luluhod and mga Tala" or "Pasan Ko and Daigdig;" nor a deep sociological dive into realities like broken families in "Madrasta" or the hardships of OFWs (overseas Filipino Workers) in "Caregiver."
Ironic as it may seem, Ate Shawie, as the famous is fondly called, unexpectedly yet excitedly revealed it is the simplicity of her MMFF entry with Alden that makes it extremely special. "I'm very confident with our movie because its beauty is in its simplicity. It's like my first movie, 'Dear Heart' — there's truth, beauty and simplicity [in the story], and I've missed making movies with these three things. So, it's [getting to go back] to that [time] for me, at a different age, which is why I am so in love with this project," she elaborated. Written and directed by the winning tandem of Mel Medoza-del Rosario and Nuel Naval, respectively — the same geniuses behind Cineko's 2022 heart-tugging and award-winning MMFF entry, "Family Matters" — "Family of Two" is simply a "Mother and Son's Story" as the movie's tagline reads. It is about a loving son bent on giving his devoted mother, who was widowed when he was only five, a good life following all her hardships in raising him alone. But, while he goes on to do just that, he is faced with a dilemma when he falls in love with a successful career woman who decides to migrate. Worried to leave his mother behind and alone again, the son ventures to find a good man to look after her. Amid complicated situations, a brief separation of the two eventually leads mother and son to deeper realizations of what they truly want and need in their lives. "[You can imagine] how close mother and son [have] become through the years — just the two of them. The story is just that simple, but it hits you straight to the heart," the Megastar guaranteed. "I'm certain that when you watch this movie, there are parts when you're smiling without knowing that you're already in tears. That's the effect it has on me," Sharon added.
Vocal about forming a true mother and son bond with Alden on set, "Mama" — as the actor now calls her" — further said she cannot be happier that the closeness they achieved is honestly captured on screen. "Mama was so motherly to me when we were doing this film. That's why all the scenes we had together — whether light or heavy — came easy for me," shared Alden for his part, who also acknowledged how bitter-sweet it was to do a movie like this given how his mother passed away some time ago.
Meanwhile, even as the Megastar — a mother of four herself and therefore no stranger to the joy and heartbreaks of raising and letting go of her children — keeps highlighting the story's simplicity as its greatest asset, Mel del Rosario warns this year's bevy of lady leads in the MMFF that Sharon duly delivers a Best Actress-caliber performance in "Family of Two." "Beyond a Best Actress, I was floored by one scene in particular where Sharon didn't have any lines to say but as she cried, she was able to express so many emotions at once. Love, hurt, regret and so on... I tell you, that single scene was a masterclass in acting," noted the veteran screenwriter. Grateful she accepted the role, del Rosario, as well as Director Naval and Cineko Production's owner Mayor Enrico Roque, are as confident as the Megastar that audiences will relate to "Family of Two" just as much as they did to their entry last year For starters, Roque revealed, "The story of 'Family of Two' is dear to my heart. My mother was a single parent who brought up two sons--me and my brother, Board Member Ricky Roque." Genuinely touched by the movie and its message, the producer went as far as to say, "I'd be unfair if I say that this one is better than 'Family Matters,' but even with all of its 25 awards, that's the truth." "Family of Two (A Mother and Son Story)" opens nationwide on December 25 as part of the Metro Manila Film Festival.