Erich Gonzales sheds tears while Enchong and JC shed clothes (or at least their shirts) in ‘Once a Princess.’ But the story falls short in trying to shed light on their characters’ motivations. Panoorin kung feel mong ma-experience ang isang episode ng Maalala Mo Kaya on the big screen.
SYNOPSIS: (from the official site) Once upon a time, there was a princess who could not live happily ever after…Erin Almeda, one of the princesses of Gibbons International School belongs to a clique all-girl group whose members’ are considered as the most glamorous and richest of all. One day, Erin played with the innocent heart of their class geek, Leonard Jamieson. Seven years later, Erin and Leonard cross path once again. It seemed their roles have been reversed. As they meet again, it is Erin’s turn to feel the pain. And so Erin needed to find the magic that will lift that curse. Or she will die of heartache soon.
GENRE: Drama, Romance
DIRECTOR: Laurice Guillen
WRITER: Angel Bautista
CAST: Erich Gonzales | Enchong Dee | JC de Vera | Matt Evans | Nikki Valdez | Bryan Santos | Tippy Dos Santos | Angel Aquino | Bing Pimentel | Ian Veneracion | Ramon Christopher | Eda Nolan | Jackie Aquino | Annicka Dolonius | Myrtle Sarrosa | Akiko Solon
Can one really learn to love someone over time even though his or her heart belongs to someone else? Can one learn to forgive someone he or she has loved even if that someone has hurt him or her deeply? Can one small action really change the course of one’s future? These are some of those tough life questions the main characters in Once a Princess try to answer. On paper, these are good themes to dig into in a 90-minute film. In execution, though, the said characters were only able to scratch the surface.
Once, inspired by a bestselling Precious Hearts romance novel, tells the story of the titluar “princess” Erin (Erich Gonzales), a popular campus beauty, whom bad boy biker Damian (JC de Vera) and earnest transfer student Leonard (Enchong Dee) both had their eyes and hearts set upon on. A family crisis forces Erin to choose the more influential and politically-connected Damian. This almost literally kills Leonard, who was led to believe that Erin was just, well, leading him on.
Fast forward to seven years later. Princess-turned-pauper Erin, who is in an unhappy marriage with Damian, crosses paths with a very bitter Leonard. That’s when the questions above started coming in. Will Erin be finally true to Leonard? Will Leonard forgive her? Will Damian let Erin go?
It is a movie that had
a lot of potential.
It is a movie that had a lot of potential. Sure, it a love story and a drama, but it tries not to fall into the usual clichés, like the beauty-and-the-geek conflict that the official synopsis appears to make the film to be. The visuals perfectly capture not only certain parallelisms between the past and the present; it also pays homage to other fairy tale princesses. The actors made good with the material given to them, especially Gonzales, who excellently captures, through her tears (apparently she is capable of crying at a drop of a hat), the suffering of a young woman who has the weight of the world put upon her shoulders. “Pagod na ‘ko”, she says at one point in the movie. And boy, can you really see and feel it.
And yet it was still difficult to sympathize with her. Or with Damian and Leonard. And therein lies the problem: the characters weren’t fully fleshed out, and it led to more questions about their motivations and about the inner workings of their hearts and minds. What was going in Erin’s head when her brother practically pimped her to Damian? Didn’t she feel it’s such a tall order for someone who is not even 18 to consider that type of relationship? If Damian truly loves Erin, why haven’t we seen this?
These weren’t fully explained in the film. Yes, sometimes it is better to leave some elements hanging (which, by the way, is also not the case here, especially in the ending). But making the viewers think and ponder is different from making them confused and disappointed. Unfortunately this movie falls in the latter category. ♦