Being JaDine fans, my squad and I already locked down the date to watch this movie long before Viva Films finalized the release date. We already planned to watch the film on its first weekend out but eventually, our excitement got the best of us and we settled on seeing it on opening day instead. It was a decision well rewarded because I must say, straight off the bat, that this is by far the best JaDine movie I’ve seen yet.
Coby (James Reid), the grandson of an ambassador, and Ava (Nadine Lustre), the daughter of a family that runs a funeral parlor, meet as children one summer and instantly form a connection that propels their special friendship for the next ten summers whenever Coby would return home with his granddad after a diplomatic stint. They are obviously in love with each other but stop short of putting a label on their relationship because they spend most of the year apart anyway. But as they grow up and their feelings grow deeper, Ava starts to wonder about the wisdom of holding out for Coby, her special friend whose intent to help his grandfather find his long lost love, makes it uncertain on when he will even return. Is it really that important to define the relationship or are labels nit important for two hearts that love?
I had high hopes for This Time despite the repeated statements of the director and the cast that it was going to be a light summer movie. After spending the past several months watching On the Wings of Love and seeing the improvement in the acting of James and Nadine, I felt that it was about time for them to test their mettle as actors on the big screen anew. And truth be told, I was amazed that even for a light movie, both actors proved that they have truly matured in their craft.
This time (pun intended), James and Nadine, whose first three movies together involved Wattpad adaptations, had an original movie written for them by Mel Mendoza-del Rosario, which involved a plot that would have them on opposite sides of the world for the most part of the movie. The challenge for this reel and real loveteam was how to convey their tried and tested chemistry in the scenes where they were not together — that showed them communicating through a variety of devices — cellphones and laptops, through Skype or calling overseas. I’m happy to say that actors rose to the challenge and delivered on the right amount of emotion — love, longing, frustration, annoyance at what their situation was forcing them to endure.
Backed with a story that has real substance and asks real questions that real couples in long distance relationships go through, the film explores what its like to be in a relationship filled with uncertainty, despite the fact that one is “pretty sure” that one’s feelings is reciprocated by the other. For me, James and Nadine perfectly portrayed Coby and Ava because of their rapport and chemistry that was even heightened by the fact that they were just so comfortable with each other that it seemed that there was no acting required for these two at all. Compared to their previous outings, there was a marked improvement in their performances, and the fact that they were able to detach themselves from the characters of Clark and Leah, characters that they portrayed on television for seven months, was a credit to their growing range in acting.
The plot was technically very heavy because there were a lot of loaded questions couched in humorous hugot lines underlying in the movie. It had good story progression and yet the approach was very light to balance out the depth of the relationship issues being tackled by the movie. It was a nice touch that the script incorporated pop culture, and current event references to emphasize the timeline as this connected the characters better with the specific timeframe.
Let me just say that the cinematography in this film was awesome. It didn’t matter whether the scenes were shot in Japan or the Philippines. It was equally good. Direk Nuel Crisostomo Naval, who has earned a reputation as being a meticulous director, truly has been consistent with his attention to detail, making every frame worthy to watch. Aside from the fact that he was able to bring out the best rapport from his actors, he was also able to build a strong foundation for the main love story and the substories in which the film revolved. Everything was obviously well planned and executed and that actually comes as no surprise for the likes of Direk Nuel.
Another thing that stole the show for me was the Buhays (Ava’s family). These guys Al Tantay (Papa Pards), Candy Pangilinan (Mama Pards) and Yam Concepcion (Ate Pards) were so funny and made the movie more fun at every turn, especially Candy. Also the kiddie versions of Coby and Ava were super cute. Wish they had more scenes because these kids had real chemistry on their own too. Nova Villa and Freddie Webb as Ofelia and Melchor also had a great moment in the movie that audiences need to watch out for.
Because This Time was a light summer movie, the film didn’t really try to push the envelope further and stuck true to its lane. It played to its strengths, which was mainly the strong performance of its cast members, as well as the great execution and flow of the film. I don’t know if having Cornetto as a major sponsor was a downer for some but I didn’t mind the product placement so much because it wasn’t too in your face. By 3/4th of the story, audiences will already feel and accept that the ice cream is part of Coby and Ava’s love story and come to terms with the fact that the brand will appear every once in a while (yes, even in Japan).
All in all, I think Viva made the right choice in giving James and Nadine a chance to shine in an original movie. It also gave them a chance to display their maturity as actors in handling a more mature role. I loved that the film incorporated art into its story, especially the last scene in the movie which James described as “fun and colorful.” James, as always tells the truth. The scene is indeed something to watch out for. And while my friends and I already took in the movie twice in successive screenings, I’m guessing I’ll troop to the cinema again to see it again in the weekend. Yes, I loved it that much. I also maintain that its JaDine’s best movie to date, but that doesn’t mean that its going to be their best ever. I see even better movies in the future, that this is just a taste of what’s to come, and it makes me even more excited about their next project.
And for those on the fence about whether to see it or not, I’m just gonna leave this trailer here for your consideration. Enjoy!