My Cactus Heart stars real life sweethearts Maja Salvador and Matteo Guidicelli in a generic Rom-Com about a cynical girl who is so afraid to fall in love and the guy who swears to give his heart to her. Judging by the poster, one would think that Xian Lim has a major role in the love story but surprisingly enough, the up and comer appears in only a few scenes throughout the movie and is really only included in the film as eye candy.
Sandy (Salvador) is a daddy’s girl who gets her heart broken for the first time when her father decides to leave their family and live a life on his own. Growing up, she witnesses how her dad’s action affected her mother and vowed that she will not open herself up to similar hurts by falling in love. Carlo, on the other hand, grew up believing that his mother died in Singapore after he was born. Despite having to live with his father’s vices, he remains positive, optimistic and hardworking in order to make ends meet. He also finds a passion for music that his father strictly forbids as it reminds him of his dead wife, who was like him, part of a band while they were abroad. When Carlo finally meets Sandy (he works as a waiter by day/band vocalist by night), he woos her and tries to get her to come out of her shell, risking his own feelings by getting close to her prickly cactus heart that stings anyone who ever gets near.
My Cactus Heart is pretty cut and dried as a typical romantic comedy, especially in a Filipino setting. Of course, there is the concept of family and how one’s family helps shape a person’s philosophies and personalities. There is the cute guy and the pretty girl who are as opposite as night and day. Matteo plays the charming minimum wage earner with self deprecating humor and an easy stride while Maja as the girl who chooses to close her heart to love because of her fears. There were a lot of over the top moments that drew a couple of laughs — some romatic date montages that were there to prove that audiences are watching a romatic comedy. However, the scenes seemed like pieces of the puzzle haphazardly pieced together that they don’t really do much for the overall impact of the film.
Matteo has improved greatly as an actor and his cool guy vibe is supported by his playfulness and puppy dog looks targetted at his leading ladies. But the problem is with his speech. He is more comfortable with English dialogue rather than tagalog so poor guy roles are not really advisable for him, as with this movie. Another thing about the movie is that the story is very shallow and really doesn’t go anywhere — just goes around in a loop that goes back to past hurts that prevent Sandy’s character from moving forward. Its actually quite annoying how narrow minded her character is, especially since she did not grow up in a convent. It was kind of sad that everybody in her family (except her mom) has already moved forward except for her, and it was also disappointing that everybody knew that there was a pattern to her behavior but nobody went out of their way to talk to her and help her grt through her rut until 10 minutes before the movie was over.
All in all, the movie was entertaining enough but I was glad I didnt shell out P150 to see it on the big screen.