Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Hello, Love, Goodbye

♣♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Joy (Kathryn Bernardo) is a domestic helper in Hong Kong. With her contract ending in a couple of months, she is always searching for side jobs to save more money for her pending application to Canada. Since her visa only allows her to work for just one family and only in that line of job, she is always on the lookout for immigration police cracking down on illegal sidelines. All this she does in the hopes of bringing her family to Canada to start anew. Just when she is about to call it quits with her employer, she meets Ethan (Alden Richards), a Filipino soon-to-be resident in Hong Kong who works as a bartender. He likes her, but he pisses her off. Soon, his persistence pays off despite knowing that she is hell-bent on leaving. In the end, will all his efforts be enough to make her stay and choose him?

Mature. Perhaps that’s the word we are looking for here. Bernardo has shown so much potential since her child actress days. Remember when she played the role of young Gretchen Baretto in Magkaribal? After that she kind of stagnated in projects with Daniel Padilla, which is the common route these youngsters take to survive in the business. Take advantage of the fan base and restrict your acting repertoire for the sake of a stable stream of projects. It’s a good thing she’s leaving that behind now.

This isn’t her first foray into the OFW narrative. She did Barcelona a few years back, which was basically the same OFW story but focused more on the romance aspect of the story. Hello, Love, Goodbye is not devoid of a love angle at all but it highlights the OFW part of the equation more, delving deeper into the technicalities as well as the unique aspects of what it is like to be an overseas Filipino worker in Hong Kong. In this regard you get a balanced story that refuses to be teenybopper. At last, Bernardo has grown up.

The same can be said for Richards, who is also coming from the same setup with Maine Mendoza. This goes to show that actors can really grow and offer something more than the usual when given the chance to work with other actors and experiment on stories crafted not just for the sake of pleasing a rabid fan base. Just when you thought Cathy Garcia-Molina has run out of formulaic love stories to tell, she makes a comeback with a fresh take on the quintessential OFW narrative, from a millennial point of view.

Of course you still have the same old formula at play, starting with the gang of two or three sidekicks who don’t seem to have any subplots of their own and just spend most of their screen time serving as cheerleaders of the two lead characters. The good thing, though, is that we are also introduced to other characters in the background who, instead of being turned into mere plot devices, are instead given their own stories that are fleshed out to complement those of the leads. Such is the case for Joy’s employers as well as Ethan’s younger brother.

The ending evades predictability and harks back to Joy’s opening monologue on how some people and places come into our lives to teach us a lesson or to change us forever. Not everyone is really meant to remain. Such conclusion veers away from the cliché notion that all happy endings require conformity to the general idea of togetherness. Highlighting personal growth and maturity, Hello, Love, Goodbye imparts a valuable lesson on how self-love is necessary for a person’s evolution.

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