July 29, 2014
Kenji de los Reyes is one of the passengers of a plane that crashed en route to Bicol. His son Kenneth, a rebellious teenager who just wished his dad dead the night before, wants to go there to look for him. Kelay is a kooky girl who also wants to look for Mr. delos Reyes because she wants to reunite him with his first love, her aunt Athena, who is on her death bed with dilated cardiomyopathy.
As typical local rom-coms go, Kenneth and Kelay start out hating each others guts. As circumstances forced to them to take a long road trip to Bicol together, Kenneth gets to know his "gangster" dad more and the pivotal role Athena played in his father's life.
This film is by now a certified blockbuster about to run on its third week, and for good reason, it is very good as far as local mainstream films go. A big part of its success is the superb casting of today's most popular teen love team, Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo, both as Kenneth and Kelay of the present day, and Kenji and Athena of a generation ago.
It was also an inspired casting coup to get the biggest love team twenty years ago, Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta to play the senior Kenji and Athena. As much as I wanted to hide the fact that Ms. Zulueta is in this film, the film's opening credits did keep her special participation a secret, so I wrote it here too. I think they should have hidden this little casting gem secret as long as they could for better effect.
Both sets of actors have so much positive chemistry with each other that it radiates through the screen into the movie theater. They do not even have to speak to titillate their rapt audiences. The best scenes of the film did not have words: Daniel riding to school on his skateboard, Kathryn smiling with her new haircut, Richard carrying Dawn from the wheelchair to the bench, Dawn radiantly coming into view from the bedroom.
Director Cathy Garcia-Molina knows how to use the best assets of her actors to convey the most emotion, even without words. Ms. Molina is best known for her Sarah Geronimo-John Lloyd Cruz trilogy (which I confess that I have not watched), so her skill with what clicks in a Pinoy rom-com is unquestionable.
The script is written by Carmi Raymundo, who had collaborated with Ms. Molina several times before. She had adapted the story from the best-selling novel of the same title originally published on Wattpad written by Bianca B. Bernardino. Of course, as with other such hit rom-coms there are plenty of sweet quotable quotes. The most memorable of them would probably be, "When I say I can't breathe, it means I love you."
The noisy parts of the film are the parts I did not like too much, such as the maid with the siren-like voice or that cringe-worthy "sexy love" basketball cheering routine. I understand though that these are there for comic relief and would play better for the younger female members of the audience. There were also that thing about the pager mix-up at the very outset of the story that I cannot understand.
However, those little negatives aside, it was really those moments when sincere heartfelt emotions shine through, and there were many, which can transcend age and gender barriers and resonate for audiences of all generations to appreciate, be moved to tears and applaud. 7/10.