Philippine Daily Inquirer

Portrait of fated lovers as irresponsi­ble amnesiacs

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On the plus side, the latest Daniel Padilla-Kathryn Bernardo rom-com, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Mae Cruz-Alviar, helps the popular couple sustain its “maturing” process, casting them in roles that require them to go beyond “kilig value,” and opt for more complex character, plot and theme developmen­t.

Given the screen love team’s popularity and influence, the extra effort as the stars slide into their 20s is a good and even necessary gambit, so kudos for the step-up move.

On the other hand, the laudable effort has been compromise­d by scripting quirks and quibbles that occasional­ly raise viewers’ eyebrows—and keep them in arch, questionin­g suspension!

Some problems: Daniel and Kathryn don’t know each other, but at an “event” involving a mayor (Zanjoe Marudo), they both dance and booze up a storm—and end up—instantly married to each other (courtesy of the similarly inebriated and wacko mayor)!

That sounds like a potential- ly promising albeit wildly crazy plot premise—but, the way it’s developed raises more questions than much-needed answers:

First, after recovering from their humongous hangovers, it appears that both Kathryn and Daniel promptly forget about the instant “wedlock”—until the marriage certificat­e arrives later, just as Kathryn is about to get engaged to her BF of six years (Matteo Guidicelli).

Naturally, that throws a huge wrench into Kathryn’s new marital plans, which is why she moves heaven and earth to locate Daniel and get their instant wedlock—unlocked!

Later, of course, they realize that they’re actually meant for each other, so they end up letting Fated Love take its course, as it does so often in local “fan- tasy love” flicks.

But, is that all there is to it? Do viewers just sappily ride along with the “crazy” and “fantasy” proceeding­s? Sadly, all those unanswered questions get in the way of the empathetic storytelli­ng, and viewers wake up all too soon—with a thud.

First, the fact that the leads get roaring drunk, instantly married and promptly forget all about it says a whole lot about them as people.

The film takes time to characteri­ze Daniel and Kathryn as loving and lovable individual­s who are doted on by their respective families. But, if they’re such blithe and irresponsi­ble drunkards and “donker-donker” instant amnesiacs—what’s there to love?!

To be able to come up with a wild and crazy plot concept, the production compromise­s its protagonis­ts too much to still “deserve” viewers’ attention and empathy.

They’re made to behave so crazily and irresponsi­bly that all self-protective people should avoid them like the plague!

Other negative consequenc­es born out of excessive eccentrici­ty abound, pulling the film further downwards. That’s a pity, because the leads do have occasional “moments” in which they stretch their thespic horizons to some extent.

But, their characters’ basic “craziness” is too huge a flaw to mitigate against. So, the otherwise creditable “young-adulting” gambit has to be deemed a failure due to faulty scripting.

 ??  ?? Kathryn Bernardo (left) and Daniel Padilla in “Can’t Help Falling in Love”
Kathryn Bernardo (left) and Daniel Padilla in “Can’t Help Falling in Love”
 ??  ?? VIEWFINDER NESTOR U. TORRE
VIEWFINDER NESTOR U. TORRE

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