I caught the last full show of this teenybopper rom com on its opening date along with my co- workers. From the minute I plopped down on the seat and opened by popcorn, I braced myself for an hour and a half of lighthearted entertainment filled with LOLs and an occasional dramatic scene which is the trademark of Star Cinema, the studio that produced this movie. True enough, all my expectations were met.
Ivan (Daniel Padilla) and Patchot (Kathryn Bernardo) have been friends since they were kids. They have been through a lot together. Ivan was there when Patchot’s beauty queen mother left her family for loftier career opportunities, and Patchot stood by Ivan when his father ran off with another woman. When they grew up, their familiarity starts to pose a problem with Patchot, who starts to develop feelings for her best friend, who finds it hard to see her beyond the friend zone. Worse, Patchot’s cousin Angel (Liza Soberano) arrives from the US and Ivan immediately falls for her. Even worse, Patchot’s dad (John Estrada) would not allow her to explore her femininity because he fears that Patchot would turn out exactly like her mother, the deserter. When Ivan’s gay uncle (John Lapuz) decides to help out the lovelorn teen, Ivan begins to see a whole new side to the friend that he has known forever.
The plot was predictable — a no brainer, the stuff formulaic mainstream movies are made of. On all counts, this should have accounted for a boring disaster.
However, I found that I liked the film a lot despite the recycled plot. It seemed that the excellent direction of Dado Lomibao and the witty script of screenwriters Melissa Chua and Roumella Monge made the film seem fresh and fun, entertaining and relateable to the audience. The script was peperred by a whole lot of acronyms and delivered with a certain sense of coolness which will surely start a fad among teenage members of the audience. Terms like YOLO (You only live once), MTB (Meant to Be), MBL (Must Be Love), slow mo and fast forward will surely dominate the walls of facebook in a couple of days. As for the family element, was incorporated into the film early on so when the focus shifted from the love story to the family drama side, it did not seem awkward and blended seamlessly into the narrative.
The best part of the movie however, was the great chemistry between the lead stars and among the supporting cast members. Young heartthrob Daniel is a natural born charmer and he carries with him an appeal that is not common among young stars of today. When he delivers his lines, it is with great abandon to self consciousness that when he does goofy, it turns out endearing. His dramatic acting could still use some work but there is great potential there. Teen princess Kathryn, on the other hand, maintains a good girl image that is such a foil to Daniel’s effortless cool that makes their pairing work so well. Perhaps, because of working together many times before and establishing a rapport (or something else), the two stars seemed very comfortable with each other which made their scenes appear very natural and heartwarming. The supporting cast, which mainly provided comic relief, lent barrels of laughter rifting through the audience. All this was reinforced by the magnificent backdrop of Cebu as the setting for the film. Surely, this will be a boon to potential tourists who want to revisit the places the scenes were shot.
If I were to post any complaint about the movie, perhaps , it would only be overselling of the tomboy angle for Patchot in the beginning. It is one thing to be boyish but it would seem that her character was also oblivious to the basic tenets of personal hygiene, appearing always caked in dirt, sweat and charcoal. Also, the speed of the courtship between Ivan and Angel seemed to proceed at too fast a pace.
All in all, Must Be Love had a very simple story that carried a very positive message. It spoke about love between friends, family and and love for oneself — looking beyond the superficial and appreciating a person for what he/ she is. Its a bit cliche but for a movie that targets mostly teens, its still a great lesson to impart. A great date movie, or just to see with a bunch of friends. Loads of fun and an awesome way to unwind and spend the better part of two hours. I wouldn’t mind seeing it again, given the opportunity.