‘I’m Drunk, I Love You’ is More than Just About the Friendzone

Written by Vann Vicente

WARNING: This review contains spoilers.

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I tend to be very particular when I watch films that are about people like me. Just like the characters of ‘I’m Drunk, I Love You,’ I’m a 20-something college student, so naturally, I was a bit weary walking into a movie about 20-something college students. Many movies have tried to capture the way young Filipinos act, handle relationships, and talk with each other–and many feel very cringey and inauthentic. Some films overdo trying to sound “millennial” and have dialogue that sounds like an old person trying to talk like a young person. Other films have all their characters speak in pure or 90% English, which doesn’t actually happen in any usual barkada.

That is exactly why I’m glad ‘I’m Drunk, I Love You‘ exists. It’s probably one of the most realistic portrayals of conversations between people my age put on screen. There is just the right amount of humor, sarcasm, subtext, and emotional heft in every exchange that it could be a random discussion I’m having with one of my friends. Or overhearing from the next table in a bar. JP Habac and Giancarlo Abrahan’s great screenplay and the film’s central trio’s strong performances deserve all the credit for making that happen.

One of the best examples of this happens about 30 minutes into the movie when Dio (Paulo Avelino) randomly quotes Russian scholar Fyodor Shcherbatskoy in the car, saying “The future is unreal. Ultimately, real is only the present moment of physical efficiency.” Avelino’s delivery is perfectly tongue-in-cheek: skirting the line between sounding like a douche and making fun of himself for even knowing the quote. And it’s immediately followed up by Carson’s (Maja Salvador) amazing “Eh, future girlfriend?”

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JP Habac’s ‘I’m Drunk, I Love You’ is a dramedy about Carson and Dio, two 25-year-olds who have been best friends for seven years. Just a few days before they both graduate from UP (they’ve both been delayed to hell–which I suppose is meant to explain why Avelino looks nothing like a college student), they go on a road trip to a music festival in La Union. Carson goes on the road trip because she’s been harboring an intense, unrequited love for Dio since they met and views it as a chance to finally get some closure. It’s later revealed that Dio went to pursue reconciliation with his ex-girlfriend Pathy (Jasmine Curtis-Smith) who he knew was going to be there.

Jason Ty (Dominic Roco) is Carson’s gay best friend whom she drags along for the ride. The screenplay does tend to fall into a few overused tropes and stereotypes whenever he’s involved in the conversation, such as the moment when they argue who between the two of them the handsome stranger is looking at. Thankfully, Rico is gifted with great comedic timing and brings the movie some genuinely hilarious moments: the scene over breakfast where he tearfully recalls his accidental admission of love during sex is pure gold. His arc ending with him having a three-way romance with a pair of foreigners is ridiculous, but kind of perfect.

The film is sprinkled with various musical performances from indie artists. Some of them tend to elongate the running time unnecessarily, but the songs themselves are a welcome addition. The film itself inhabits a growing subculture of music, literature, movies, and art that revolves around young love and unexpressed feelings. Unfortunately, Avelino isn’t a particularly good singer, so it tends to be a little disorienting whenever it’s mentioned that Dio is some sort of moderately well-known indie act.

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The main reason why this film works for me is that I’ve been a ‘Carson’ to a ‘Dio’ before, just like most people. Maja Salvador brilliantly captures all the emotional intensity that comes with that much unfulfilled potential–the drunkenness, the anger, and the ferocious turbulence. She plays all that with just the right balance of pain and humor; making you laugh and ache all at the same time. It’s early, but I have no doubt that this is already one of the best Filipino film performances of the year.

It’s a mistake to think that this film purely about “friendzone” or hugot because, like most relationships, it’s a lot messier than that. It would’ve been easy to turn our leading man into a jerk, forcing the audience to get angry at him for not picking the “perfect girl,” but the way Avelino plays Dio is as a guy who’s incredibly oblivious, indecisive, yet ultimately well-meaning. The villain of this movie isn’t Dio; it’s circumstance. Between graduation, law school, Pathy, crappy exes, and feelings left unsaid for seven years, the film goes to lengths to show us that we’re looking at a relationship that’s hard to boil down into a simple statement.

It’s a brave choice to turn this entire movie into more than simple one-sided pining. About an hour into the film, when a very drunk Carson confesses that she’s loved Dio for seven years and he kisses her tears away, my brain went into full alert. Is he just trying to comfort her? Is this just to give her what she wants? But the film turns into a tangled mess of emotions when you realize that Dio does have affection for Carson, and that she wasn’t imagining everything. Maybe it’s not love, but it’s something close enough that you could confuse the two.

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The film’s synopsis on IMDB tells us that “this is not a love story,” and that’s a fair way to describe it. It doesn’t end with an explosive kiss or a tearful goodbye. It ends in a way it could have started–with two best friends drinking and laughing in the middle of the night. We walk away from the movie hoping that they end up being endgame, that they have more drunk nights of sexual tension and affection a couple of years down the line, but we know, sadly, that there are always going to be Pathys and graduations and unresolved emotions waiting.

What the last few minutes do show is similar to an idea from another movie I adore, Blue is the Warmest Color. Dio and Carson have an infinite tenderness. It’s not the love that moves mountains or turns into a grand romance. They probably won’t get married or share the rest of their lives with each other. However, there’s a sense that nothing looks quite as beautiful as watching the other person sleep peacefully, whether it’s in the morning when you wake up or at night during the drive home. And that’s the feeling that hits really close to home.

I’m Drunk, I Love You: 4/5 (Great)

Side Note: What is with Irma Adlawan and having 5-minute cameos as moms in indie movies? She was also Alessandra De Rossi’s mom in Sakaling Hindi Makarating. I mean, I suppose she’s the perfect movie mom, but this is a random trend.

Did you also get major feels from ‘I’m Drunk, I Love You?’ Let us know in the comments below!





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