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.
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