After two weeks, people are still lining up in the cinemas to catch this Toni Gonzaga-Piolo Pascual starrer, the Valentine offering of film giant Star Cinema about finding love, losing love and moving forward. This film, helmed by award winning director Olivia Lamasan, has been hailed by critics for Piolo’s acting prowess and Toni’s excellent comedic timing but if viewers are expecting a light romantic comedy, they will be in for a surprise.
Architecture student Ginny Gonzales (Toni) has harbored a crush on History professor Marco Villanueva (Pascual) for four years, pursuing him relentlessly and shamelessly for the duration of her stay in the University. When finally, she convinces Marco to allow her to do her thesis on their ancestral home, Marco begins to see a different side to the persistent student and soon enough, he begins to return her feelings. After three years of being together,Ginny ends their relationship without any explanation and Marco is left to pick up the pieces alone. Yet another four years pass and their paths cross again when Marco’s business partners contract Ginny to design the site of their new venture. But Marco now has a girlfriend Patty (Iza Calzado), and Ginny grows more confused when her feelings for Marco resurface.
A lot of people can relate to this movie, and perhaps this is the reason why it sells itself to the audience so easily. The story has depth but it balances out the seriousness with comedy. It tackles relationship issues and is a wealth of quotable quotes for the brokenhearted. But on the other hand, the romantic moments are totally swoon-worthy. The movie proceeds at a steady pace, revealing pieces of the story slowly so the audiences can understand the characters better.
My favorite part of the film is actually the manner in which the flashbacks were presented. They were not done sequentially so audiences don’t get to root for only one particular character and hate the other one completely. While it shows heartbreaking scenes for one party, in the next few minutes, another flashback that happened much earlier than the first one will be shown which will make viewers understand why the character acted the way he/she did.
While there were parts that felt like an exhibition of great dialogue, or an excuse to show just how great an actor Piolo Pascual is, the film still managed to pull it all together with an ending that would make audiences happy, despite not being what they expect. On the one hand, its great that Filipino films are doing the unexpected rather than go with the formula even though it doesn’t do justice to the story.
All in all, Starting Over Again felt more realistic than most Valentine movies. Its about finding the right person and loving them completely. Its about loving oneself and achieving one’s dreams because nothing is wrong with that. Its about forgiveness and friendship, success and failure, its love evolving into a different form. Its about starting anew and finding the strength to do so.