I finally had the time to catch up on my TBW pile and this Pinoy teenybopper romance was one of the few that I failed to see in the cinema. The film is based on yet another wattpad hit of the same name and features teen hearthhrob James Reid and his love team Nadine Lustre, whom he co-starred with in Diary ng Panget. I must say that at the end of the movie, the overall emotion that lingered with me, more than anything, was confusion. I don’t think its a good thing because I really really like these kids.
Top is a bad boy and the leader of the Lucky 13 gang. After he is confronted and humiliated by Samantha, the feisty heiress of a major conglomerate while she was defending her friend, Top vows to exact revenge by making her his ‘girlfriend’. Unknown to the two, they have a shared history and their love story has been going on for a decade.
There are a lot of things I don’t get about the story. And I think that before I go on about everything that is wrong with the movie, the story is the source of everything that did not work out about the film. I have not read the book so I could not judge the literature but on screen, it seemed like a hotpot of cliches all mixed together as a means to come up with a love story that does not even make sense in the first place. The plot was so riddled with loopholes to a degree that boggles the mind — personally, I spent the better part of the film’s 120 minute run alternating between cringing and grinning like an idiot, but that’s mainly because Jadine (James and Nadine) had such good chemistry.
My first problem was the characters. Everybody was so underdeveloped and immature. Sure I’ll grant them that they’re teens and thus more likely to do stuff without thinking things through but the actions of Top and Samantha make no sense. They fall in love without finding out anything about each other. They have major fights that are rooted on not just simple issues, but really test the level of trust and yet these are resolved as easily as saying sorry. They have no respect for one another and act out in the most hurtful ways but that’s okay? The best friend falling in love with the girlfriend, the amnesia, the blindness, the fixed marriage — it seemed like a concoction of telenovela plots forced into a two hour feature.
I get that the source material is based on fiction, and that wattpad is basically an online platform to encourage young writers to explore their creativity, but in purchasing the rights to the literature, filmmakers and screenwriters should have made the call to polish the material and not just blindly base everything on the written work. I take issue with the values presented in the film, like how women should be treated. Should women really allow men (no matter how popular and hunky) to call them bitches and retards? Should they blindly follow guys just because they’re popular, and should guys really join gangs and engage in violence every time to prove their coolness? I get that this is fiction, but since the filmmakers are bringing the book to a wider audience with the target market being teens and young adults, I suppose taking creative liberties with the source material would be acceptable. Is this really what we want teens to perceive as reality? Are we condoning a culture of abuse because really, while at least Diary ng Panget had the balance of a sensitive loving guy, Talk Back had only the gang members and Samantha’s submissive father as male models.
In terms of cinematography, while the shots were good, the editing was so abrupt that the transitions negated any impact any scene might make on the general audience. The general feeling that I got was that it was so fragmented, in thought and execution.
All in all, I felt like Talk Back and You’re Dead was a waste of good talent because there was potential in James Reid, Nadine Lustre and Joseph Marco. They had the skills but they were reduced into playing unbelievable characters in the most unbelievable fashion. As a whole, this movie felt like the Frankenstein monster — with parts from separate entities stitched together to form a whole. As a result, chaos.