I’m a big fan of Kim Chiu. I’ve seen all of her movies and watched all of her soaps, except for Past Tense. I did not quite connect to the plot as I did her other works. After I watched it, I felt like I was right in the first place. Her third movie paired up with Xian Lim did not pack quite the punch that the first two did.
Belle has spent the past 20 years in a coma after a car accident. When she wakes up, everything is different, even her face. She finds out that her survival is considered a medical miracle. In the course of figuring out what do with her life, Father Time makes an appearance and gives her the chance to redo her life before her accident in the hopes of correcting her mistakes and having the happy ending she wanted.
I would say that Past Tense was not a bad movie per se but there was something essential missing from the story to connect the audience to the characters. Kim as the young Belle was a firecracker, much like she was in Bride for Rent but it seemed at times, that she went over the top in her kikay persona. Ai Ai as older version of Belle was pretty spot on and it was fun to see how these two made an active effort to study each other’s behavior to come off as one person and make the portrayal very consistent. Xian as Babs was so-so but then again, his character was pretty much a watered down version of fat guys on film that went before him. Whereas Sam Milby was adorable in My Big Love, sad to say, Xian looked pathetic and so lacking in confidence as Babs that its really hard to take him seriously as a love interest.
The premise of the movie was pretty cool but I felt like since it was already unique in its premise, it should have stuck its guns and done away with having the makeover before the girl falls in love with the guy. I mean, if Belle already realized that she felt something for Babs, then that should have been it, not that he had to develop a six pack to show her what she’s been missing. Belle was not shallow. She was honest but she was not shallow because from the start, she valued her friendship with Babs and that was clear.
Complicated as the story was, I think the problem in developing the love story was with the blending of Babs and Belle. There was really no lead up to that big moment so it was natural for it to be awkward. There was really just friendship between the two and except for his one gesture, Babs did not communicate his intent for Belle to be more than a friend in all of their scenes together. What he did to work out, etc was all done behind Belle’s back and it led to a certain detachment unlike in the first two movies where there was time to bond and develop the two characters as a unit.
There was also the issue of abrupt resolutions that felt forced to meet the requisite happy ending. Really, all of the family issues, friendship issues and love issues was resolved in the space of one night?
All in all, I was disappointed that Star Cinema only relied on star power to sell this movie. Rather than quality, even for a simple love story, it was subpar for a studio offering. Sad to say, for a film that was premised on the fantastic, there was no magic in this one. It felt rushed, and released for the sake of meeting a deadline. For all the charm it promised, it was a dud.