‘Tayo sa Huling Buwan ng Taon’ review: Exquisite, heart-rending execution

Nestor Abrogena Jr.’s ‘Tayo sa Huling Buwan ng Taon’ picks up five years after its first film yet it still manages to teem with poignant authenticity.

Tayo sa Huling Buwan ng Taon follows the story of aspiring filmmaker Sam (Nicco Manalo) and writer Isa (Emmanuelle Vera), five years after their breakup in Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa. Both are now living with their respective new partners: Sam is with his nurturing co-teacher Anna (Anna Luna), and Isa is with his devoted former flame/childhood friend Frank (Alex Medina). Ex-lovers turned good friends, Sam and Isa attempt to find their own selves in the realm of their respective romantic relationships. As they come to terms with their feelings for each other and everyone else around them, what they discover instead is further pain and uncertainty.

Tayo boasts an element of unpredictability to its plot and gives a much deeper approach to the history of Sam and Isa, without falling into the trap of cliché story scenarios. Past wounds are reopened as it takes you to a rollercoaster of emotions – there’s laughter, melancholy and a lot of regret. It asks about the unending ‘what ifs’ in life and nudges you to act on it. The execution here is all out yet it shines in its subdued moments, best seen in the silences of its characters. It may lull you to sleep in its slower moments, but the payoff is certainly heartfelt.

Make no mistake, there’s no huge plot twist here as the film does its best to be a grounded love story about regular people – characters that are flawed yet earnest in their intentions. It helps that director Abrogena fills the scene with parts which are equally quiet yet realistic and intense – moments that mirror contemporary love. Manalo and Vera once again deliver a heartfelt chemistry that hits right through the heart. While newcomers, Luna and Medina, add beautiful touches to a wonderful picture.

The vivid and remarkable cinematography is once again present and widely used – the team even did a better job than the previous one. The soundtrack is a superb and a much-balanced tool than helps in delivering the emotional beats needed.  The songs are wisely chosen as it boasts a stellar and exciting lineup: the main theme song ‘Huling Sandali’ by December Avenue is specifically written for the film. The lyrics emotionally mirrors Sam and Isa’s journey adding another layer of feels upon their eventual reunion.

Suffice to say, Tayo sa Huling Buwan Ng Taon blew me away and I almost love everything about it. From its storyline to its cinematography, this film has exceeded what fans expected to see and feel. There’s a much anticipated scene in El Hogar between Sam and Isa. Narrative wise, the four year gap between the first film and this sequel really helped. You’ll feel how time has changed these characters. Whatever learnings that we got four years ago will be translated beautifully onscreen. This film stays true to its depiction of humans winning and losing in love, how couples still try to figure out life and themselves. It reflects the real lives we live in, our actions and how we affect the people around us. This is something that fans can cherish as a fitting sequel to a previously unfinished love story.

4 out of 5 stars
Tayo, Sa Huling Buwan ng Taon is directed by Nestor Abrogena and produced by TBA Studios. Starring Nicco Manalo, Vera, Anna Luna, and Alex Medina. Runtime: 105 minutes

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