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By Brontë H. Lacsamana, Reporter

Movie ReviewMy TeacherDirected by Paul SorianoMTRCB Rating: PG

INTENDED as an homage to the unsung heroes in the teaching profession, My Teacher fulfills the promise of a cliché story full of manipulatively shallow conflicts and predictably heartwarming conclusions.

The film has a decent premise — high school teacher Emma Bonifacio (played by Toni Gonzaga) returns to her hometown which holds difficult childhood memories. There, she must discipline a delinquent class and reform them into successful graduates, including a 70-year-old man (played by Joey De Leon) who is estranged from his family.

Both leads play their part as expected, with Ms. Gonzaga hitting all the basic dramatic notes required of a strict yet caring teacher role and Mr. De Leon being, well, himself, complete with Boomer humor, preachy moments, and a questionable past.

The rest of the cast does their job adequately as well, from the aspiring basketball player to the bullied working student to the closeted gay character. However, the script they’re given only lets them ply the same old formulaic routes.

Even Carmi Martin’s eccentric principal, Rufa Mae Quinto’s upbeat co-teacher best friend, and Kakai Bautista’s scheming, jealous antagonist are well-played caricatures — who all overstay their welcomes in a one-note, gratingly tried-and-tested manner.

The visuals are decent enough for the film to be watchable, but the screenplay provides nothing new. Subplots teach lessons the same way the main characters teach and are taught lessons, whether about prejudice, forgiveness, or hard work.

Paul Soriano’s direction leaves much to be desired. Maybe there’s a better film here, but not with the usual tropes and predictable leads that represent how the Philippine film industry is so used to playing things safe.

My Teacher drags on and on — some kilig dialogue, tearjerker moments, and inspiring soliloquies litter the narrative all until its very end. Surely, the Metro Manila Film Festival can offer better movies than this.

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