The death scene towards the film's end, where Emil (Christopher de Leon) dies from an aneurysm attack in front of Marilou (Vilma), is one of Philippine cinema's most unforgettable moments. Shot in one continuous take or what's called "tuhog" in local film lingo, it showcases the breadth and depth of Vilma's acting. Without musical scoring to boost the pathos of the scene, Vilma relied on her masterful grasp of human emotions to come up with an intense portrayal that can only be described as realistic and truthful. Marilou's frantic movements and utterings of Emil's name, the panic that strikes her, her anguish all mirror the immediacy and urgency of the situation. Vilma makes great use of her body, her eyes, her voice, everything, to realistically depict a woman's helplessness in the middle of her beloved's seizures, and then her pain upon his death.
The scene triumphs as a prime example of realistic cinematic acting, not just cinematic acting. The type of acting that not just mesmerizes, but involves the audience and lets them dig deep in their emotions. The brand of acting that people, whether they have undergone a similar experience in their life or not, can relate to and say to themselves, yes, that's how real people react to a real-life emergency situation and to a loss of a significant other.
The box-office success and the awards are a testament to Vilma's triumph.
Another achievement that Relasyon has earned for Vilma is her risk-taking has influenced the younger generations of stars. This is palpable in the renewed interest in mistress roles and movies that tackle adulterous affairs. As it were Vilma's daring role choice became a pattern of success for rising female stars such that many major young stars nowadays have become "other women" on screen. Vilma's Marilou became the template of the now in-demand kerida (mistress) roles. - RRIE
"Emil, a young executive, and his mistress Marilou, a planetarium guide, decide to be live-in partners. In the process, they discover each other's failing, which result in the strain in their relationship, bringing about their temporary separation. When they finally decide to resume their relationship, under a set-up wherein the man devides his time between his family and mistress, he dies frpm an attack of cerebral aneurysm. The woman decides to start a new life abroad, finding strength in the Jove [sic] of her departed lover."
"Santos’ acting is adequate and extraordinary."
(“A Deep, Psychological Film” by Isagani Cruz, Parade magazine, July 21, 1982.)
"Vilma Santos confidently showed she felt the character she was portraying. Her depiction of feelings and emotions easily involve the viewers to share in her conflicts and joys. In this film, she has peeled-off apprehensions in her acting."
(Star View, by Lawrence delos Trinos, Star Monthly Magazine, July 1982.)
"Napakahusay ni Vilma Santos sa papel ng pangunahing tauhan, isang dalagang umibig sa isang may asawa. It’s one hell of a role and a heaven of a performance. Kasama si Vilma sa lahat ng eksena sa pelikula at talagang ito na ang pinakamabigat na papel na napaatang sa mga balikat ng isang local actress mula ng gampanan ni Gina Alajar and lead role sa “Salome.”
(Puna at Puri, By Mario E. Bautista, People’s Journal July 1982.)
"Sinasabi ng mga drumbeater ni Vi na ang kanyang role sa pelikulang ito ay pang-award, pang-FAMAS, pang-URIAN o pang-Film Academy Award kung matutuloy ito. Hindi kami tumututol sa kanilang palagay laluna’t napanood namin ang pelikulang ito. Masuwerte si Vi at sa ganitong maselang role ay dinirek siya ng isang katulad ni Bernal."
(Close-up by Mando Plaridel, Star Monthly Magazine July 10, 1982.)
"Maraming acting highlights ang paper ni Vi bilang Marilou sa Relasyon. Sa confrontation scenes nila ni Boyet, superb siya roon sa tagpong sinusumbatan niya ito dahil ginagawa na lamang siyang tau-tauhan. Ang acting niya sa death scene ni Boyet na hindi malaman ang gagawin sa katarantahan is also awesome to behold…”
(Mario E. Bautista, Movie Flash Magazine, 1983.)
"Finally in Ishmael Bernal’s Relasyon, we have a film made explicitly for adults. There is no explicit sex sequence (adults don’t really go for that sort of thing, only adolescent boys do). But the psychological problems faced by the film are comprehensible only to adults, those who know what it means to live with someone one loves (or, at least, used to love). This film is, thus, not entertaining in the usual prurient sense, but in a deeper, psychological, intellectual sense.