‘Para sa Broken Hearted’ review: Fresh take on ‘hugot’

If ever you seek validation that you’re not alone with the grief your dealing with, Digo Ricio’s ‘Para sa Broken Hearted’ is there to sob with you.

Para sa Broken Hearted (For The Broken Hearted) kicks off with a montage of random people coping with the anguish of heartbreak – in its background, After 5’s cover version of ‘Pers Lab’ is played for satirical purposes. It promises to be an ode for all the fallen soldiers of love, but with it comes an implicit caveat: this film may reopen old wounds.

The title might feel alienating for those who are inexperienced, but come to think of it, heartbreak comes in different forms right? The film/source material, however, misses the opportunity to explore that facet and restricts the scope to romantic love. Anyway, if you’re a masochist who finds gratification in this form of mild torture, or simply a casual viewer who has not yet reached the quota for ‘hugot’ films this year, feel free to embrace this and be comforted to know that it all ends with a silver lining.

Set in a bus station – a metaphorical place of limbo for all the broken hearts waiting to get fixed – two kindred souls, Jackie (Shy Carlos) and Kath (Louise delos Reyes) quickly befriend each other and share their stories of heartbreak. This film does not bog you down with a somber tone throughout. In fact, the first half of it is much lighter. Jackie’s story is the most accessible as it touches on the subject of puppy love. A woman who’s a firm believer of the philosophy “If you want something, go get it,” she does everything to win the affection of her crush RJ (Marco Gumabao). The feels are all too familiar because we’ve been there before – the butterflies that starts circling in your stomach once you receive a reply from your crush or the squashing pain that you have to endure upon seeing him/her with another potential lover. To hook you in, director Digo Ricio employs escapist elements like dance numbers as an extreme visualization of Jackie’s emotions.

On the other hand, I was left frowning most of the time on Kath’s story. Founded on an unrealistic meet cute, the heartbroken girl embarks on a road trip with another heartbroken boy Dan (Sam Concepcion) who she acquaints in one fateful night. More unrealistic plot points (and some plot holes that I can’t discuss) come into play – by then the script feels sloppy because it could’ve easily fixed these narrative stretches by making up plot devices. Also, without spoiling anything, Dan’s motivation seems inconsistent while Kath’s basis of grief in the present feels shallow.

Though pulled out of thin air, the most melodramatic of all is Dan’s ‘other’ story. This one operates in a timeline before she meets Kath. During his long hair phase, Dan is a peerless nobody who gets noticed by a popular girl named Shalee (Yassi Pressman). They develop feelings for each other and eventually change each’s life perspective for the better. However, unforeseen circumstances causes them to part ways, leading Dan to the spot where he first meets Kath.

What easily sets this film apart from the current landscape of romance genre is its retrospective style of narrative. Taken individually, the stories are redundant cookie-cutters of its genre but with Ricio’s dynamic direction, along with an aesthetically pleasing cinematography, these seemingly disparate anthologies tie into a neat, overarching structure. The world is filled with broken hearts and one way or another, Para sa Broken Hearted shows that they’re all related in the grand scheme of things.

But the film has its own share of faults too. It banks so much on familiarity that sometimes viewers will feel for the characters due to the universality of emotions in display and not necessarily because the film does a remarkable job in fleshing out the stories. It’s kind of a cheat code that the film uses to get away with its shortcomings. Another common problem for tricky ensemble pieces like this is the tendency to paint one-dimensional characters. Although he’s more of a supporting character, RJ has the thinnest characterization here.

The performances are good but the script’s preference to ‘hugot’ driven dialogues get in the way of the actors’ authenticity. The film could have opted for a more vernacular approach since it has already a great arsenal of songs to begin with – Janine Teñoso’s ‘Ang Awit Natin’ contributes much to the film’s catharsis. Having said that, it’s still a decent work considering that there are far worse things that this film successfully avoids.

Para sa Broken Hearted is more interested in evoking general emotions of elation, sadness, grief, etc. rather than telling remarkable and heartfelt stories. Ricio has plenty of personal touches here to make it look inspired but the style occasionally overpowers the substance. Nevertheless, it still delivers to its title’s promise. The film finds redemption in Marcelo Santos III’s quote dropped as a voice over realization by one of the characters, “Life is a game. Some will win. Some will lose. But in the end, everyone learns.” I guess that’s the biggest takeaway here, even if it’s not entirely earned.

3 out of 5 stars

Directed by Digo Ricio from a screenplay written by Rinka Sycip, ‘Para sa Broken Hearted‘ stars Yassi Pressman, Sam Concepcion, Marco Gumabao, Louise de los Reyes, Shy Carlos, Katya Santos, Andrea Del Rosario, Lander Vera-Perez, Christopher Roxas and DJ Durano. Based on a novel by Marcelo Santos III. Run time: 92 minutes

Marcelo Santos III’s best-selling novel, ‘Para sa Broken Hearted,’ is now a movie

The much-awaited movie adaptation of “Para sa Broken Hearted”, the best-selling book by renowned young “hugot novelist” Marcelo Santos III, is all set to stir emotions on October 3, its nationwide theater release from VIVA Films and Sari-Sari Films.

Yassi Pressman, Shy Carlos, Louise Delos Reyes, Sam Concepcion and Marco Gumabao give life to the characters of Shalee, Jackie, Kath, Dan, Alex and RJ.

Shalee (Yassi Pressman) is a bubbly photography enthusiast who is battling with a heart ailment. She has had feelings for Alex (Sam Concepcion) since their younger days.

Alex is also into arts, but his favorite subject to draw is that of monsters. Everybody treats him like he’s invisible, but Shalee’s attention and affection changes his view about life.

Jackie (Shy Carlos) is an absolute go-getter, believing in girl power as she was raised by her mother and grandmother. She falls for RJ (Marco Gumabao), and does everything to get close to him.

RJ is a varsity player and a smooth-talker which is a solid combo to attract girls. He is used to girls falling for him, but promises Jackie that he would never do anything to hurt her.

Kath (Louise Delos Reyes) is an adventurous gal who is tough on the outside but soft on the inside. She meets Dan during a time when she’s mending a broken heart.

As their stories unfold, see how the characters go from being blissfully in love to failing miserably in keeping their happiness last. Discover the connection of their lives through their broken hearts, and how it will pave the way to acceptance and moving on.

Marcelo Santos III expressed his approval on the actors’ portrayal of their characters. He was present during the film’s shooting, and he’s happy that the vision of director Digo Ricio coincided with how he saw his book to be interpreted on screen.

Giving more feels to the movie is the theme song entitled “Ang Awit Natin”, sung by Janine Teñoso, composed by Jazz Nicolas and Wally Acolola, the winning tandem behind the hit song “Di Na Muli”.

Don’t miss this compelling movie about love and its tragedies. Para sa ‘yo, para sa ‘kin, Para sa Broken Hearted.

Sarah Lahbati, Shy Carlos face demons in ‘Ang Pagsanib kay Leah dela Cruz’

Kamikaze Pictures, a joint venture between VIVA Films and Reality Entertainment, proudly present Sarah Lahbati and Shy Carlos in leading roles in the haunting movie coming out this June, produced by the award-winning director Erik Matti, and directed by Katski Flores.

“Ang Pagsanib Kay Leah Dela Cruz” shows Sarah as Ruth, a reclusive police officer who moves into the hometown of a seemingly innocent young girl that is Leah, played by Shy Carlos.  Ruth is still reeling from the death of her younger brother when she witnesses Leah jump out of a balcony.  Gabriel, Leah’s childhood friend, begs Ruth for help, prompting the latter to join the investigation.

Naturally, there are suspicions as to why Leah committed such act.  Blame is put on two people.  One is Rosario, a loyal maid to the Dela Cruz household who loves Leah as her own.  She has a strong belief in superstitions.  The other is Sister Eloiza, a school guidance counselor who once belonged to a cult but became a confidant to Leah.

As Leah’s odd behavior escalates, so does the friction between her parents Oscar and Marite.  Oscar is a kind and loving father, but a domineering husband, while Marite has been an object of rumors in their small town.

Holding a secret that should be a big help to the investigation is Father Lucas, the local parish priest, but something is keeping him mum about it.  The investigation takes a darker turn when Leah’s possession is revealed and sinister connections between the people closest to her come bubbling to the surface.  Worse, the devil’s influence becomes widespread.

While this is Sarah and Shy’s first movie collaboration, this is not their first time to star in a horror movie.  Shy was seen in Chain Mail in 2015, while Sarah was seen in a 2010 supernatural film from another movie outfit.   

Prince of the Dance Floor Julian Trono playing as Gabriel, Jim Paredes as Father Lucas, and respected theater actors in supporting roles make this movie even more exciting.

From the creators of the blockbuster movie, Seklusyon, “Ang Pagsanib Kay Leah Dela Cruz” is now showing in Philippine cinemas as distributed by VIVA Films.

Bob Ong’s best-selling novel ‘Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin’ gets epic film adaptation

VIVA Films greets the new year, 2016, with a big bang as it presents the much-anticipated film, Bob Ong’s “Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin,” dubbed as the epic trilogy to end all trilogies, come January 13.

Based on Bob Ong’s best-selling novel of the same title, “Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin” is a comedy, action, romance, horror and drama film rolled into one.

It stars some of local filmdom’s biggest stars including Maricel Soriano, Herbert Bautista, Cristine Reyes, Benjie Paras, Candy Pangilinan, Paolo Ballesteros, Jayson Gainza, Antoinette Taus and teen sweetheart Shy Carlos.

The trilogy is a rib-tickling spoof of the commercial filmmaking in the Philippines, under the able direction of three of today’s well-respected filmmakers, Mark Meily, Andoy Ranay and Chris Martinez.

Group 1

Direk Mark is at the helm of episode one, “Bala sa Bala, Kamao sa Kamao, Satsat sa Satsat,” featuring Benjie and Candy in lead roles.

It tells the story of a guy who is one of only two survivors in a massacre, which occurs right after his church wedding. Along the way he meets and falls in love with a famous actress, who unwittingly leads him to the drug lord who masterminded the massacre.

Group 3

The second episode, meanwhile, Direk Andoy’s “Shake, Shaker, Shakest,” marks the first team up of Diamond Star Maricel Soriano and QC Mayor Herbert Bautista on the big screen.

“Shake…” talks about a middle class family that gets stranded in a haunted house and experiences all sorts of horrific adventures/misadventures during their stay. The family must race against time to find the cursed object, which they unknowingly brought with them at the start of their journey.

Group 2B

On the other hand, Direk Chris handles episode three, “Asawa ni Marie,” which is a soap opera-comedy about the love quadrangle among poor farm girl Marie (played by Cristine), the two brothers who own the farm and the girlfriend of one of the brothers who makes life miserable for poor Marie.

Moviegoers need not go far to experience action, romance, comedy, horror and drama in just one seating. Bob Ong’s Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin promises to serve every cineaste’s craving in generous proportions.

“Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin” opens January 13, 2016 in theaters nationwide. Rated PG by the MTRCB.

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