Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Hows of Us

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Primo (Daniel Padilla) and Georgina (Kathryn Bernardo) hit it off at a debate and start dating. He is an aspiring musician with not a lot of gigs. She wants to be a doctor, juggling both work and academics for survival. When the two decide to live-in, sacrifices start being made, with one ending up carrying more of the load than the other. When the going gets tough, one of them eventually lets go. Legally sharing a house that her grand-aunt left both of them after her death, the two cross paths again two years later: him, determined to win her back; her, reluctant to fall for him again. As both parties try to assert dominance over the property, they find past feelings beginning to resurface, but does everyone deserve a second chance?

Oh wow, I haven’t enjoyed a Cathy Garcia-Molina film in a while, which is the reason why I wasn’t really planning to watch this movie. But the reviews that started pouring in were positive in general, not to mention claims from the studio that the film has already breached PhP500M at the domestic box office. Okay, perhaps there is something to see here after all. It has been a pleasant surprise and arguably one of, if not, the best entry on KathNiel’s filmography to date.

The premise is that of the tried-and-tested break-up story. In fact, there are scenes that remind you of rom-coms such as The Breakup, duct tape and all. The circumstances leading to the falling-out between the two lead characters aren’t something that we haven’t already heard of before. From the perspective of the girl, she narrates how she fell in and out of love with her boy, eventually calling it quits. The rest of the plot deals with his comeback and effort to win her back. Cliché. As such, we need something new.

There is nothing new. That is in terms of storyline. The material is still as predictable as ever. Garcia-Molina tries her hand at something visually fresh. The film starts with an empty house slowly being filled with furniture accompanied by conversations of new beginnings which gradually turn into lovers’ quarrels as the house succumbs to unnecessary clutter. Symbolic, I’d give you that. And then there are slow-mos. Freeze frames. Trippy lighting and music. All in all, it is a valiant attempt to keep you visually entertained, perhaps in an effort to minimize nitpicking.

Acting-wise, the film still serves as a vehicle to let a love team mature, but at least they are not shoving it down our throats like they did with Barcelona’s marketing slant. Keep the audience entertained and let them decide if these actors have indeed matured or not. Perhaps, they don’t even have to. The Hows of Us is still a case study on adulting millennials. Where it succeeds is in its way of showing us this particular subplot without being too obvious about it, keeping it plain and simple.

Both Bernardo and Padilla have potential to develop into seasoned thespians, and it’s good to see that they are both improving. In most love teams, one tends to get left behind while the other shines brighter. That does not seem to be the case here. Darren Espanto portrays the role of George’s diabetic brother. The kid needs more acting workshops, but I understand that this is his first acting gig so let’s cut him some slack. He had some really cringe moments, though. Playing George’s mother is Jean Garcia, who is tasked with just one emotional scene and nails it. These kids are so lucky to work with such talented veterans who have been acting for decades. Hopefully, they learned something from her.

They shoot some scenes in Amsterdam, which comes as a surprise because it was not hinted at on the trailer at all. The excursion plays a vital role in one of the subplots and keeps you occupied while they try to wrap up the main plot points. The ending is predictable but you get to appreciate how they strategically place the epilogue, housed in a picture frame, as the credits roll. That’s a good way of sitting through it while the crew members also get some well-deserved recognition for their hard work. All in all, The Hows of Us is a fun romantic comedy, obviously not perfect but well worth the admission price.

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