‘Stranded’ review: Silver lining in hopeless situations

Ice Idanan’s ‘Stranded’ shows how a chance encounter can change your life perspective.

In Stranded, a go-getter delivery boy Spencer (Arjo Atayde) and a workaholic pretty girl Julia (Jessy Mendiola) find themselves stranded inside an office building due to a heavy typhoon. With no one else to keep them company but themselves, the two soon break their pretenses for each other and turn the place into an unlikely safe haven for spontaneous conversations about life and aspirations. With this unexpected intimate setup, attraction is bound to happen between the two.

For a tale of self-realization, Stranded does not only deal with the usual themes of coping from heartbreaks, but rather the more casual and intricate aspects of life. It pushes you beyond your comfort zone by challenging your current ideals of happiness and settling down. By having the characters share each other’s experiences, they come into a realization of what they’re missing out in life. The film has a lot of insights to say for a generation that’s been bogged by the quarter-life crisis, ranging from sound suggestions like breaking away from corporate slavery to the seemingly-irrational ones like pursuing a romantic relationship with a stranger that you just met. It’s an easy-going film that evolves into something personal and pragmatic.

Arjo Atayde and Jessy Mendiola in ‘Stranded’

Atayde and Mendiola spur ‘kilig’ chemistry. Both act natural and cute together, without the need of going over the top to sell the romance situation. Atayde shows his proficiency as an actor by slowly becoming a household name in multiple genres (be it action, drama or comedy) both in big and small screens. His pickup line delivery is believable, making his character a good source of comic relief. Mendiola, on the other hand, continues to break away from her sexy roles, as she starts to cement her spot as one of this generation’s sought-after rom-com leading ladies. She acts with composure and assurance despite having the film’s weight mainly rest upon her shoulders.

While Stranded has its own unique endearing qualities, there are some shortcomings that are needed to be addressed here. At times, the film suffers from its slow pacing and lack of effective background music to enhance the emotions portrayed on screen. It needs more time to breathe in setting the tone and mood, whether it’s cheerful or melancholic, or hopeful or heartbreaking. With a run time of only 89 minutes it feels like it needed more visual and emotional tenderness for it to build up its third act more genuinely. The second half, in particular, feels hasty and we could not feel any connection with its outcome. Thankfully, the viewers would not feel too overwhelmed and drowned by the unnecessarily excessive emotions thrown in its final moments. Still, the film makes you pay more attention to its deeper and more substantial lessons.

Writer-director Ice Idanan creatively subverts our expectations for the rom-com genre by not only giving the standard kilig beats. Stranded works its charm as a romantic comedy film but its story gives us something that we could apply to ourselves. It’s a fun and refreshing feel-good film for the summer season.

3 out of 5 stars
Directed by Ice Idanan and written by Easy Ferrer and Jeps Gallon, ‘Stranded’ stars Arjo Atayde, Jessy Mendiola, Gretchen Ho, Miggy Marty, and Mich Liggayu. 89 minutes.

‘Ina ng Bayan’ Ai-Ai Delas Alas back with Ex Battalion in family comedy musical ‘S.O.N.S.: Sons of Nanay Sabel’

Ai-Ai Delas Alas is back on the big screen again with her extraordinary motherly love that will surely tickle and touch your heart in ‘S.O.N.S. (Sons of Nanay Sabel).’

This time, Ai-Ai plays the role of Sabel, a former Bartender who was supposed to be married to a Prince. Unfortunately, the Prince found out about Sabel leaving her 6 children at an orphanage, and decides to call off the wedding. After the wedding was called off, Sabel decided to look for her sons and reunite her family once again.

Her sons were left to the care of Sister Mary (SHEREE), who kept all the details of Sabel’s kids’ foster families and handed it to her when she finally came back as she promised.

Sabel’s sons, are played by the members of the hit rap group Ex-Batallion. Bieber (DARYL) and Justin (ARCHIE) were both adopted by a rich businessman and grew up with their Yaya Bona (JON SANTOS) who went with them when Sabel took back her two sons; Troll Montero (KING BADGER) was adopted by a barber; Baby James (JAMES) AND EZ (MARK) were both adopted by an old lady named Lola Narcisa, and they only discovered that they were brothers when Sabel took them; Bhoy (RHENN) was adopted by a couple who abuses him and never loved him, that’s why Sabel forcefully took him from his foster parents.

Sabel and her sons will experience the riot of living together for the first time, and will form the family bond that Sabel has always dreamed of. But it will soon be tested when the beautiful and flirty Helen (KYLIE VERSOZA) makes the brothers fall in love with her and fight for her. Can the bond that the brothers built at a short time overcome this challenge? Will Sabel be able to hold the family that she worked hard to bring together again?

SONS OF NANAY SABEL is written by Mel Mendoza Del Rosario, the same writer who wrote the blockbuster hits trilogy of Tanging Ina, and Ang Cute ng Ina Mo. And aside from their crazy antics, Ex Batallion also has something new for their fans, as they release their new tracks “Sama-Sama”, “Huwag Siya” and “Bagong Umaga” featuring Ai-Ai in the movie. 

It’s going to be one riot of a family with Ai-Ai Delas Alas and Ex Batallion in SONS OF NANAY SABEL.

‘S.O.N.S. (Sons of Nanay Sabel)’ opens May 1 in cinemas nationwide. Presented to you by VIVA Films.