Buti na lang hindi ako nagpatalo sa unang reaskyon ko (i.e., romcom na naman?) because watching Vince & Kath & James is a breath of fresh air. A teenaged love triangle comes to life through a series of text messages and tweets, defining the love journey of the lovestruck characters. No big scenes, no pretentious arcs. Just an honest-to-goodness tale of college romance that celebrates youth the millennial way.
SYNOPSIS: Crush ni Vince ang fellow engineering student at kaibigan n’yang si Kath. Just when he is ready to come out in the open about his feelings for Kath, pumasok naman sa eksena ang pinsan nyang varsity player na si James na may gusto rin kay Kath.
GENRE: Romantic comedy
DIRECTOR: Theodore Boborol
CAST: Joshua Garcia | Julia Barretto | Ronnie Alonte | Maris Raca | Ina Raymundo | Shamaine Buencamino | Ana Abad Santos | Allan Paule
Matagal nang crush ni Vince (Joshua Garcia) ang fellow engineering student at kaibigan n’yang si Kath (Julia Barretto). Dahil torpe s’ya, he writes 6-worded hugot feels in a blog and tweets them using his DaVinciQuotes account. Just when he is ready to come out in the open about his feelings for Kath, here comes his cousin and best friend, ang varsity player na si James (Ronnie Alonte) na may gusto rin kay Kath. James begs Vince to pretend that he is Kath’s secret admirer Var (short for varsity player) through text messages until Kath warms up to him and agrees to meet up with Var/James.
Maaaring hindi na bago ang kwento. But director Boborol manages to steer clear of romcom clichés by staging scenes that flow naturally; hindi forced, hindi rin circumstantial. Sure, may supportive barkada and best friend na laging handang sumaklolo ‘pag kailangan or to provide comic relief. At may usual back story about absentee parents (which has been a common factor in recent teen romances, be they in movies or in teleseryes). Fortunately, light ang treatment sa otherwise sobrang drama ng buhay pamilya nila. The movie chooses to focus on the celebration of youth and young love, and shows how understanding of one’s plight begets trust and takes a relationship to the next level.
What impresses here is that walang kontrabida sa movie. At hindi naman talaga kailangan ng kontrabida para maging makulay ang takbo ng istorya. This means, the characters themselves and their interaction with one another underpinned by their personalities formed by the environment enclosing them, provide the stimuli that will trigger their next moves. Thus, character-driven ang pag-usad ng kwento. Matututong lumaban si Vince; matutuklasan ni Kath na hindi n’ya kailangang baguhin ang sarili para lang makibagay sa iba; James will finally own up to his mistakes. And these realizations in the end are justifiably internalized by the titular characters Vince, Kath, and James.
Hindi matatawaran ang kilig factor ng pelikula. Nariyan ang flirting through menu browsing where the food items are oddly named such as “in a relationship” and “willing to wait”. Holding hands matapos ang ranting. At kahit simpleng pagkain ng ice cream, nagawa pa ding nakakakilig ng director. Nakakatuwa din ang eksenang nanonood sina Kath and Vince ng favorite film nilang Got 2 Believe–memoryado nila lahat ng linya nito. The scene ends with the arrival of James, at exactly where a similar scene is being shown. Interestingly, Got 2 Believe starred Julia’s aunt, Claudine Barretto.
Joshua Garcia nails it as Vince. You’d feel his struggle between helping out his best friend/cousin and acting on his own feelings for Kath. After all, it’s really his words and not Var’s/James’ that make Kath’s day. He is truly funny every time the scenes call for it, and his commitment to his character shows especially when he begs his mother to fight for him. He easily shifts from light to heavy scenes without detaching from Vince’s character. And his silent moments observing other characters are brilliant. It would be no surprise if he gets nominated and even wins the best actor award in this MMFF 2016. It may be true what they say that Joshua could be his generation’s John Lloyd Cruz.
Julia Barretto also delivers a fine portrayal of Kath, exuding both vulnerability and strength. And watch out for those unintentionally sexy and suggestive moves (in slow motion at that) as she tinkers with the hood of a car. Passable naman si Ronnie Alonte as James.
To sum it all up, the movie may be a romcom, but it could be the best entry in this year’s MMFF. It is a well-crafted film with a tight script and flawless execution, at may bonus pang soundtrack na akmang-akma sa feel at vibes ng pelikula. No big scenes, no pretentious arcs. Just an honest-to-goodness tale of college romance that celebrates the youth the millennial way.