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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

entry arrow3:49 PM | Hugot Quotes Forever

Theodore Boborol's Vince & Kath & James (2016) [trailer here], StarCinema's entry to the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival, quotes a lot. And so it must. The film after all is an adaptation of the online romantic serial written by Jenny Ruth Almocera, which became a minor social media sensation with its love story unconventionally told through snapshots of SMS and chats between the characters.

The film does not stay faithful to its source material but stays true to much of its spirit, "quoting" it but limning a more recognizable story revolving around a troika between a scrappy tomboyish girl named Kath (Julia Barretto), a happy bunny with a secret blog named Vince (Joshua Garcia), and his varsity player/heartthrob cousin named James (Ronnie Alonte).

Of course, you have seen this film before. It virtually quotes Edmond Rostand's 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac with its story of a handsome but inarticulate man wooing a beautiful woman, but doing it with the words of a helpful poetic outsider who secretly longs for the same girl. (There goes another round of quoting.) But Boborol's take has more in keeping with Fred Schepisi's contemporizing of the Cyrano de Bergerac story in Roxanne (1987), minus the gigantic nose but full of the same bright fluff and gentle unfolding.

Quotes play a huge part, too, in the burgeoning relationships between the three principals, Vince being the purveyor of "hugot" quotes he posts anonymously in a blog called "DaVinci Quotes," which Kath loves, and which James finally uses to his advantage to get to her heart.

And it quotes, too -- quite literally in fact -- Olivia Lamasan's Got 2 Believe (2002), a StarCinema romcom that starred Claudine Barretto and Rico Yan: in a pivotal scene, the new movie's stars watches the film and plays a game of matching quotes with it, and we are suddenly made to make associations between old and new. Here is your new Claudine in her niece Julia, the film tells us, and here is the new Rico Yan in Joshua Garcia. That is the ultimate level of quoting the movie aspires to -- but it is fortunately not without merit, and the pairing eventually induces the same familiar "kilig."

In Julia Barretto's feisty Kath, we see a display of the same inner fire as her real-life aunt; she is still very much an inchoate star -- but the camera clearly loves her. Though not as much as Ronnie Alonte, whom the camera gushes over -- and he knows it. (He fills Diether Ocampo's shoes quite well.)

And finally in Joshua Garcia's Vince, we get the ultimate throwback that at first unsettles, but one which we gradually come to like: here is finally a find in the romantic lead department -- a young John Lloyd Cruz lookalike armed with Rico Yan's smile. That is, if you think about it, a formidable combination, and so Garcia expectedly steals the film with his pixie-like charm, and also carries much of its dramatic burden with an aplomb that is absolutely star-making.

Vince & Kath & James does not break new filmmaking grounds, but it is charming, and it may be the film to remember as the title where these young stars first made their definite and indelible marks in very long careers ahead.

The film is currently screening at Cinema 2 at Robinsons Movieworld Dumaguete.


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