In Between Maybes, award-winning writer-director Jason Paul Laxamana takes us to a beautiful getaway with Julia Barretto and Gerald Anderson’s amazing act and chemistry.
Louie Puyat (Gerald Anderson) has been living a solitary life in Saga, Japan until his silence is broken by the arrival of Hazel Ilagan (Julia Barretto), a washed up actress struggling to find redemption in her career. They develop a functional relationship where Louie checks on Hazel during her vacation, while Louie, whose in need of a human connection, finds much joy in her company. Amidst the isolation, these two lost souls find solace in each other – but unbeknownst to them, this brief encounter will change their lives forever.
The trailers piqued a comment on the film’s casting choice – the noticeable age gap between the leads feels like an unexpected pair. But as the film goes on, it defies our preconceived notions as Julia and Gerald pull off fun and excitement: a well-established and convincing chemistry. Shockingly, their tandem gives so much realizations that will hardly cross your mind. Julia shines as she steps up in her acting skills. She masterfully balances joy and despair, showing what a real-life celebrity would look like on and off screen. She was born for the role of Hazel Ilagan. Indeed, her performance made everything look beautiful and sincere.
There’s so much to admire in Between Maybes. With its compelling plot and well written screenplay, the film perfectly portrays how a brief getaway can matter to someone as a form of healing. It is a touching exploration of two souls who found each other at the right time. The strength of the film lies in the character development of Hazel and Louie. Hazel starts off as an entitled teenager whose ambitious stage mom pushes her showbiz career to mask her incompetence in academics. Louie, on the other hand, while being polite and quite formal in his demeanor due to being accustomed to the Japanese culture, has his own share of dark past too — secrets that haunt him and would rather not talk about. Though they seem to be the opposite of each other, their relationship eventually evolves into a romantic one, which proves that familiarity breeds contempt. It helps the viewers reflect their attitude towards other people through the peaceful experience of the main characters in Japan.
Between Maybes leaves a sweet taste yet packs a mouthful of emotions to your stomach. With its breathtaking and vivid cinematography set in Saga, Japan, it feels like a treat to witness these characters find comfort in each other during the low points of their lives in a place far from home. It’s a life story that teaches responsibility and loving yourself above anyone else. Hazel’s arc is very relatable – don’t we all sometimes want to get away from the noise of our regular lives and go back to it once we have finally cleared our minds? The film takes us to their pain yet with every mistake and hardship comes the choice to cherish love and learning. The film gives a significant impact to many aspects in one’s life, career, family included. Laxamana’s adept direction and the cast’s reliable acting makes everything a delight to watch. For its somber and dramatic moments, these are further amplified by a good musical arrangement that includes “Mahalaga” by Trisha Denise and Acel’s cover of Rico Blanco’s “Your Universe”. This film surely gives viewers a new hope to never give up on the local industry.
And with its sincerity and bittersweet themes in play, Between Maybes feels like one of Jason Paul Laxamana’s special works, if not the best. It showcases his skill as a storyteller with the help of a balanced and well-written script. Without a doubt, he has continually shown improvement in his craft. Plus, we get to experience the beauty of Japan through this film. I daresay this is yet the best romantic comedy film he has made.
5 out of 5 stars