Critical reflections on #ILoveLizzy

Critical reflections on #ILoveLizzy

My wife and I were finally able to watch the movie. She convinced me to reflect on the movie.

For context, our Facebook newsfeed has been bombarded by images and reactions from those who have watched the movie. At first glance, it does seem such a bittersweet love story: a priest presiding the marriage of his ex-lover. From the trailers and the social media reactions, this is a given. Therefore, the hook of the movie significantly rests on the reasons why Jeff and Lizzy did not end up with each other.

At the surface, the story seems to paint a theme of sacrifice while toeing the line between two vocations: married life versus priesthood.

At this point, I must say: spoilers ahead! And, this may be an unpopular opinion. But in no way am I belittling the movie – if any, I’d like to adopt a more favorable interpretation. Anyway!

Unfortunately, for me, the way Jeff’s reasons were written and how the final scenes were executed did not really make sense. I had strong negative reactions when the movie revealed why Jeff chose to leave Lizzy and left her hanging.

Jeff’s scene that gripped me the most was when he was in the church, questioning God (maybe as a parallel to the Job story?). It was heartbreaking. But what put me out of my trance was the sudden shift: kapag pinagaling ni Lord si Lizzy, hinding-hindi na niya iiwanan si Lord.

This put me off because… it was presented as if it was a bargain with God? And not to mention, the earlier lines of Jeff pointed to how God seemed selfish because the moment Jeff fell in love with a woman, God seemed to act out of jealousy and let harm befall Lizzy (at least this is my read about Jeff’s outburst). Because Lizzy did in fact get better due to Jeff’s “bargaining” (at least in the mind of Jeff), it did seem like God acted selfishly and wanted Jeff to be a priest.

It doesn’t sit well with me how this scene characterized the Catholic and Christian God, whose other name is Love. At worst, the scenes after Jeff’s outburst seemed to make God say, “Yes, if you remain loyal to me, I’ll spare Lizzy.” This seems contrary to the idea of our God of Unconditional Love.

Another point: let’s say that the logic of Jeff’s bargain does work (and I strongly disagree with that approach), if Jeff did really love Lizzy, why not have the decency to inform her of his decision? Lizzy even mentioned in her texts that it would be okay if Jeff ultimately chose priesthood. Why the need for deafening silence? At worst, this seemed to me as a needless and inauthentic way to manufacture drama. It seemed so out of character for Jeff to just be silent.

Final point: the wedding scene. I also did not like the choice of the song Hanggang Ngayon. That scene seemed to say that Jeff still romantically loved Lizzy, at hanggang ngayon, si Lizzy pa rin ang iniibig niya. This scene is what is going around social media and is depicted as a form of sacrifice. But at worst, with Hanggang Ngayon playing while Jeff is officiating Lizzy’s wedding – is it meant to say that Jeff still loved Lizzy? What do we say about his commitment to his priestly vocation? Napilitan lang siya because of a bargain with God?

I liked the movie – the cinematography, the memorable lines, and the acting. But the last scenes, unfortunately, left such a bad taste in my mouth. It felt like there are more other reasonable ways for Jeff to sacrifice instead of “bargaining” with God. The ending, for me, puts God in a bad light – selfish, and someone you bargain with to get what you want. This is the direct opposite of selfless and unconditional love.

Having said this, the movie is still worth the watch!

Matthew 5:20-26. “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.


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