I decided to watch some MMFF movies. It’s my way somewhat of supporting the Philippine film industry, which I’ve always hoped will gain momentum for a legitimate renaissance. Besides, this year’s lineup was hyped as made up of the “cream of the crop”, as it didn’t include the kind of crowd-pleasing, commercially-successful but bankrupt-in-substance local movies that it usually features (since trashy Filipino movies were what’s exclusively shown on theaters during the Christmas break, I hated the MMFF for years).
Besides, since it’s MMFF season, there’s literally nothing else better to watch in theaters.
The first movie I went watch is Vince & Kath & James.
Vince & Kath & James is arguably the most “mainstream” among the MMFF lineup, being a teen romantic comedy. It tells the story of an Engineering student named Vince (Joshua Garcia) who is secretly in love with his classmate Kath (Julia Barretto) but lacks the confidence to tell her his feelings. Thus, he expresses them through six-worded blog posts called “Da Vinci Quotes.” One day, the school’s basketball varsity star James (Ronnie Alonte), who also happens to be Vinci’s cousin/bestfriend/adopted brother, sees Kath and also expresses interest in her. Unaware of Vinci’s feelings for Kath, James asks Vinci to use his gift of words to woo Kath on his behalf by becoming her anonymous textmate.
There’s nothing original about the premise of this movie. A man in love with a woman but unable to tell her is not a new concept for a romance, nor the idea of him expressing his feelings by sending anonymous notes or ghostwriting for another man. Vince & Kath & James simply updates the concept for the modern Internet age, with texts and social media instead of pen and paper and print.
To be honest, I was really hoping I would be surprised by this movie – that the trio of characters involved in the love triangle would actually do something completely different from the typical roles of trios in love triangles, that a plot twist would actually send the story to a unique state. But Vince & Kath & James is downright by-the-numbers. The characters behave as expected, and the narrative treads on a path of predictability.
However, despite being thoroughly clichéd, I didn’t really groan of loathing and yawn of boredom. For all its flaws of unoriginality, it manages to employ well enough all the hackneyed tropes it uses to be passably watchable.
Its cast is competent and possesses screen charm, though there were scenes that I wasn’t convinced of their acting. On the other hand, there were also moments when it felt like Barretto and Garcia are legitimate rising stars.
For someone who’s not really a fan of rom-coms – especially the formulaic, sappy Filipino-made ones – the best thing I can say about Vince & Kath & James is that I didn’t hate it. But it was unable to really impress me, too.