‘Still Human’ review: Heartfelt and engaging domestic help dramedy

Still Human beautifully gives us a heartwarming story that will make us cry with its engagingly relatable drama .

Still Human is about a paralyzed man and his Filipino domestic worker who learn about each other as they go on their lives in Hong Kong. Former construction worker Leung Cheong-wing (Anthony Wong) who is paralyzed from the chest down is left to spend his days contemplating his existence in a cramped public housing estate flat. That changes when his friend, Fai (Sam Lee Chan-sum), finds him a new domestic helper after a series of unsatisfactory hires. Despite starting off with a language barrier and a mutual distrust, Cheong-wing and his new recruit maid, Evelyn Santos (Crisel Consunji), a former nurse, soon develop a great fondness for each other. These two strangers live under the same roof through different seasons, and as they learn more about each other, they also learn more about themselves. Together, they learn about how to face the different seasons of life.

The story is straightforward and it shows how two strangers can help achieving their dreams along the way. The trailer didn’t reveal much but it’s all about sacrifices, family, dreams and a heartfelt domestic help story. The film would really capture the hearts of both Filipino workers and Hong Kong employers. Evelyn is an aspiring photographer who has temporarily given up her dreams and to work as a maid to a grumpy Cheong-wing. While the story of a domestic helper and her employer grounds the film in a real-world context, the story and characters are no less relatable for audiences unfamiliar with live-in helpers. Most importantly, the film does not portray Evelyn or Cheong as pitiful — instead, it gives both of them a base of empowerment from which they can choose their own destinies, and escape the limitations that social, economic, and physical circumstances have imposed on them.

At first you’ll feel that Evelyn and Cheong are two strangers who both have different aspects in life. But halfway through the film as Cheong discovers Evelyn’s dream to become a photographer and dream to become something more than just being a maid. Cheong’s attitude towards her starts to take a turn, he even stands up to his sister when she makes a racist remark at Evelyn making the film more relatable and heartwarming. Both of them have dreams that they feel unable to pursue because of different conditions in their lives. Evelyn’s arrival convinces Cheong to start turning his life around. This takes turns as they are not totally different at each other at all.

Still Human shows that gaps in language, culture, gender, age, or social status are not hindrances to form a connection with someone else. Regardless of one’s background or societal standing — a helper or a disabled man — we are all still human. The film humanizes and gives a voice to not only helpers and the disabled, but also people from all walks of life who are often overlooked, dismissed, and stereotyped by society at large. This is a big move to a debuting director. It was great showing this hoping a wide audience might see this film.

The film is sincere and meaningful with a dedicated director and performances of the leads. Director Oliver Siu Kuen Chan’s debut features a lot of genuinely heartwarming story. He amazingly creates a tearjerker film full of lessons in life – dreaming big and keeping on in life. Those lessons may be broad, but it maintains true all along the film.

Crisel Consunji had never acted in a film when she was chosen to star opposite Hong Kong cinematic legend Anthony Wong Chau-sang but she was no doubt the best choice for the role.  Crisel Consunji and Anthony Wong Chau-sang infuse discovered optimism into their respective characters’ adversities. Crisel owns the role as if she was really Evelyn by showing its fears and process them into emotive performance, you would never know she was not an equal veteran to Wong Chau-sang. She anchors this film with professionalism and light in a star-making performance. Both have great moments. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and most important is that you’ll learn from their respective characters.

Still Human is a heartwarming story about the reality of life and dreaming big. It was engaging, dramatic, humorous, and sweet. Still Human is very timely and relatable film best seen by a wide audience.

5 out of 5 stars
Written and directed by Oliver Siu Kuen Chan, ‘Still Human’ stars Crisel Consunji, Sam Lee, Anthony Chau-Sang Wong, and Cecilia Yip. 112 minutes

‘Hello, Love, Goodbye’ review: Unexpected, undeniable chemistry

Hello, Love, Goodbye exquisitely gives us the pleasure and pain of love from the fresh, heartfelt team-up of Alden Richards and Kathryn Bernardo.

Set in Hong Kong, two OFWs are destined to change each other’s lives forever. Joy (Kathryn Bernardo) is a spunky millennial who works as a domestic helper in Hong Kong. While she excels in her job and enjoys the friendship of many other empowered domestic helpers, she plans to leave the city soon. Hong Kong is only her stopover. Determined to live a greater life far from her depraved childhood, Joy has big dreams of succeeding in Canada or wherever her dreams may take her. In her journey to achieving her goals, Joy meets a Pinoy bartender Ethan (Alden Richards) who’s a sweetheart playboy soon to become a permanent resident in the city. After escaping responsibilities all his life, Ethan now wants to commit to a newfound career and to his family (who also resides in Hong Kong).

Set in Hong Kong, two OFWs are destined to change each other’s lives forever. Joy (Kathryn Bernardo) is a spunky millennial who works as a domestic helper in Hong Kong. While she excels in her job and enjoys the friendship of many other empowered domestic helpers, she plans to leave the city soon. Hong Kong is only her stopover. Determined to live a greater life far from her depraved childhood, Joy has big dreams of succeeding in Canada or wherever her dreams may take her. In her journey to achieving her goals, Joy meets a Pinoy bartender Ethan (Alden Richards) who’s a sweetheart playboy soon to become a permanent resident in the city. After escaping responsibilities all his life, Ethan now wants to commit to a newfound career and to his family (who also resides in Hong Kong).

Joy and Ethan soon develop a friendship. The two become each other’s joy against the grime and grind of Hong Kong. So much so that when lonely nights come, they fully surrender to each other’s comfort. Still, they warn each other: this is just “for now”, we are not permanent. Nonetheless, as they overcome more and more problems in Hong Kong together, Joy and Ethan’s love deepens. They become each other’s savior—helping one another mend their lifelong wounds and realize their ambitions. They wonder, can their “for now” turn to forever? But what happens when Joy’s dreams take her away from Hong Kong? How can their love possibly survive?

“I love you.” – Joy (Kathryn Bernardo)

Judging by its trailer alone, one may think that HelloLove, Goodbye, is yet another typical love story with a love team that unimaginably has a connection with each other. And to some extent, it is not. It is not your typical love story. It’s about sacrifices, life, family, dreams and a heartfelt OFW story. The film really captures the hearts of the Filipino around the world. They both have their respective struggles, one is economically burdened by a tiresome family she supports back home and one who is in a year-long disagreement with his family while trying to find a new path in life. By helping each other, they eventually find a way out of their woes, but in the process they are made to choose between being together and being apart just to fulfill their individual dreams.

Basically it tells us that people come and go in our life. In this world, we see every people every day. New faces and new personalities we love to hang around for awhile, but along that we will meet someone that will give our lives a more profound meaning. A person that we share stories without judgment and a person who we can fall in love with. While sometimes there will also be a person who will leave us in the end, not because you are not fit together, but it is the right thing to do especially if there are things to fulfill first in life. The film gave us all that feels from the sweetest hello to a bittersweet yet heartwarming goodbye. It tells us that that life does not stop because of heartbreak, nor should it revolve around a person. Sometimes it’s all about the goals to fulfill and families to support to. Ultimately, falling in love isn’t that all in all we need in life.

The film also brought to life the problems of being domestic helpers in Hong Kong, especially with regards to risking illegal activities for their dreams of material wealth. It’s an eye-opener to us Filipinos who think that OFWs are automatically living a better life. But it’s a big NO. It amazingly tackles about the things they would do just to survive living there every day. It is a very heartfelt film that tells us that tough choices need to be made and be respected in the name of love.

Director Cathy Garcia-Molina gives us a lot of surprises from start to finish. She shows dedication in telling us an amazing life story. The film uniquely takes you on an enriching journey that’s not made out of blunder, not overly dramatic, but surprisingly entertaining. Cathy indeed manages everything. It sets the tone and builds a pace along the way while balancing each of our emotions throughout the journey. The choice of location is great too. Hands down in presenting Hong Kong as a fast-paced world that requires determination and stamina to survive. Overall, Hello, Love, Goodbye is a beautifully-made and on-point film that satisfies a wide audience.

Adding to the greatness of this film is the cast that remarkably gave everything to their respective roles. Kudos to Kathryn Bernardo and Alden Richards for their first heartfelt team-up. There is love and ‘kilig’ through pain and hardship indeed. Their lines are true and close to the heart they bounce off each other with such ease and skill.  In a way, you’ll laugh and you’ll cry in the film as they are both very good and have great on-screen chemistry that will make you want to see more of them together. There’s no single moment where everything is off as Kath and Alden made sure that Ethan and Joy’s relationship feel undeniable, relatable, and believable.

Kathryn is without a doubt in her best performance so far without Daniel Padilla. She remarkably portrays all the emotions to her audience. From breaking away from toxic traditions to realizing her full potential she nailed her role as a young Filipina OFW. Kathryn is perfect for the role and is the real ‘Joy’ in the film.

Alden shook us with his amazing acting skills. No doubt he is handsome but this film makes him more attractive. He shines and fits into playing the playboy made good archetype bartender. Cathy made sure he gives his all to this one as he excelled in acting compare to his early roles. (watch out for his scene stealing scene with Jameson Blake who played as his brother). This is a game changer for him. No doubt the two shared an undeniable chemistry and is the proof that two people don’t actually have to be in a relationship to create that kind of magic onscreen.

Alden Richards as Ethan

With all ‘kilig’ moments, Cathy Garcia-Molina beautifully executes a heartfelt team-up of Alden Richards and Kathryn Bernardo. Hello, Love, Goodbye stands out from its predecessors of the same genre as it tells of a beautiful story about the reality of life more or less of the main lead’s romance. It is unique and simple yet a great film depicting the life of a domestic helper in Hong Kong. Hello, Love, Goodbye is worth to be seen by worldwide audiences.  

5 out of 5 stars
Directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina, ‘Hello, Love, Goodbye’ stars Kathryn Bernardo, Alden Richards, Maymay Entrata, Joross Gamboa, Jeffrey Tam, Maricel Laxa, Jameson Blake, Kakai Bautista, Lovely Abella, and Maxine Medina.