100 Tula Para Kay Stella: Movie Review

"100 Tula Para Kay Stella" yearns and focuses on the carefree days of college life. It's a time embodied new beginnings, hope, love, and ultimately, naiveness. But don't let the hopeful spin of that era make you think that the film isn't dark, heavy, and dramatic.
A poet by nature, Fidel Lansangan (JC Santos) ironically is unable to speak straight on his own. Stuttering, he finds himself an outcast from his peers. But when he gets to know Stella Puno (Bela Padilla), he falls in love and writes poems in her honor. Unable to say what he truly feels, Fidel plans to write poems in the hopes of one day being able to give it to Stella.
We've always known for a fact that for Filipino films, it's not a good film if it doesn't have a good ending. On some regard, "100 Tula Para Kay Stella" is not afraid to break that mold and with it comes a very relatable story especially for a particular age group. The film is set in the early 2000s and in a college setting so people in their 30s should find the film an authentic reflection of that bygone era. While we could see the film aging and transitioning well to other groups, this is where the film should be its most effective. Back to its narrative, the film spins a very dark tale. At times feels like a never-ending series of unfortunate events for Fidel, Stella, and their friendship and relationship. For those who expect good things from their romance dramas, this might be a shock but we loved the film for that fact. The individual story of the two main characters felt real and very emotional. Unfortunately, the same cannot be stated for its supporting characters. Either the characters were miscast or maybe underutilized but these characters felt half-baked and just put in the film to move the main plot in a very shallow way. The film could have spent a little more time developing or even removing some of them if the running time was an issue. Ultimately, there are two main support characters that have a very important roles in the outcome of the film and both had a handful of short scenes at most to develop their relationship with Fidel or Stella. The strongest points for the film was the acting and chemistry between JC Santos and Bela Padilla. They do look a bit too old for their on-screen counterparts but minus that minor grievance, both came off pretty well. JC Santos in particular did a great job as the stuttering Fidel. Overall, "100 Tula Para Kay Stella" works because it was brave enough to be unconventional in key sections of its plot.
Rating: 4 reels

Why you should watch it:
- An accurate look back to an era that most in their 30s will remember with fondness
- Emotional and superb acting from the leads

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- While the leads were great, their real she's don't fit their characters
- Some of the supporting characters felt miscast or underused

"100 Tula Para Kay Stella" is currently available on Netflix and iflix.
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