Love You Long Time: Movie Review

Love You Long Time Movie Review: More Mind Bend than Time Bend

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One of our most significant movie-related pet peeves revolves around the quality of writing, or rather, the lack thereof. "Love You Long Time" attempts to differentiate itself from the standard Filipino romance drama with its unique premise. To some extent, it succeeds, aided by JP Habac's exceptional camerawork. However, our appreciation for films goes beyond visual excitement. Unfortunately, "Love You Long Time" falls short in this regard, presenting a mind-bending, time-bending, incomplete narrative that leaves much to be desired. 

Ikay (Eisel Serrano), a screenwriter grappling with the aftermath of a traumatic breakup, struggles to complete her latest project. Her persistent delays have led to her boss' frustration, who issues an ultimatum: submit her work or face the possibility of losing her job. Seeking inspiration, Ikay decides to visit her favorite Aunt's place in Baguio. During her stay, she stumbles upon her Aunt's old walkie-talkie through which she receives messages from a man named Uly (Carlo Aquino) from Benguet. As the two engage in constant communication, Ikay gradually discovers the story she needs and finds inspiration in her newfound friend.

Our expectations were high, given that "Love You Long Time" was among the more promising films featured in the 2023 Summer Metro Manila Film Festival. However, perhaps our anticipation got the best of us. The film excels in its premise and cinematography. Once again, JP Habac proves his prowess behind the camera as he was able to capture the scenic beauty of the film's Baguio and Benguet backdrops. He also employed a unique two-shot style that added a distinctive and memorable touch to the film - while also serving a deeper purpose beyond aesthetics. Yet, where the film falters lies in Eisel Serrano's performance and the overall writing. While the chemistry between Carlo Aquino and Eisel Serrano is evident, Eisel's acting feels strained, unnatural, and occasionally irritating. As always, Carlo Aquino delivers a solid and well-rounded performance. However, it's apparent that he shoulders a significant portion of the workload to make their on-screen partnership function well. On the writing front, the film breezes through the development of the pair's relationship. The whirlwind romance lacks a substantial foundation to support the eventual unveiling of its twist. The script may have the usual one-liners but the story cannot survive on "hugot" lines alone. And while we understand the film strives for an unconventional premise and potentially an unconventional ending, the actual conclusion falls short. The ending needed more character development and backstories to feel earned. Although the film's premise and cinematography shine, the narrative and character depth leave much to be desired which makes this come off as an incomplete film or incomplete experience for us.

Rating: 2 and a half reels

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