Review To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

The saccharine-heavy rom-com effectively uses its overly familiar ‘fake-first-date’ tropes to make a sweet & uplifting teenage love without over-abusing its sugary potential.

Review To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: “Make Teenage Romcom Great Again” should’ve been a tagline Susan Johnson’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (referred as To All the Boys on later paragraphs) carrying because it indeed does it. Based on a novel of the same title by Jenny Han, this Netflix production is a clichéd, sugary romcom with manipulated yet effective plot that will make audiences smile ear to ear.

To All the Boys revolves around the life of a 16 y.o. Korean-American girl, Lara Jean (Lana Condor, Jubilee in X-Men: Apocalypse) who loves to read romance novels and fantasize her older sister boyfriend who happens to be their next-door neighbor, Josh (Israel Broussard, The Bling Ring). When her older sister, Margot, leaves to pursue education in Scotland, Lara Jean is living a mundane life with her father and her little sister, Kitty, but not for long. An embarrassing incident happens, letters—that Lara Jean has written to the boys he used to love/have crush on but she never actually sent—unknowingly get sent to the addressees, which includes Josh and a childhood crush,  Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo—the guy from Camila Cabello’s Havana), a jock and boyfriend of her high-school (sort of) rival. Continue reading “Review To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)”

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Review Brother of the Year (2018)

Presenting a sharp (but not unusual) blend of exaggerated sibling-rivalry dramedy and sweet romcom, Brother of the Year crafts a heartwarming comedy with unexpected (but effectively presented) turn.

Review Brother of the Year: In Vitthaya Thongyuyong’s GDH-produced blockbuster, what started out as a family dramedy about sibling rivalry quickly escalates into a full-fledged sentimental drama in an unexpected (but effectively presented) turn.

GDH darling, Sunny Suwanmethanont, stars as Chut—a less-motivated slacker, whose perfectly filthy bachelorhood life breaks after his multitalented sister, Jane (Urassaya Sperbund) returns home from her university time in Japan. As a blockbuster filled with sharp comedy materials upfront, it’s surprising that Brother of the Year takes a bold (but not strange) move to bit-by-bit leave its non-serious material (which powered most of its first half) and focus on a serious material, which might, at least, get lumps in your throat. Continue reading “Review Brother of the Year (2018)”

Satu Hari Nanti (2017) – Review

The ABCD of Love is muddled with convoluted plot and loose threads.

Review: Salman Aristo’s directorial effort, Satu Hari Nanti, is a complicated story about four Indonesian folks tangled in a love rectangle on a foreign land. Dubbed on-screen as “the ABCD of Love” (a coined term which somehow foreshadows the whole conflict) with wide references ranging from Hamlet to Woody Allen, and from Anthony Bourdain to Franz Kafka, the film is well-intentioned; but, when it comes to presentation, only one thing comes up to mind: muddled.

Set under the elegant sky of Switzerland, Satu Hari Nanti is like a box of interaction between the film’s four main characters only. Alya (Adinia Wirasti), a chocolatier student, is in the midst of desperate romance with Bima (Deva Mahenra), a musician bumping from one café to another. While Chorina (Ayushita), a hotelier, is trying to survive in a bumpy relationship with a tour guide, Din (Ringgo Agus Rahman). Four friends, two couples in a foreign land; two broken relationships try to make amend; there’s where each of them begins to cross the line between friendship and romance. Alya begins to find solace in Din; and Bima begins to find one in Chorina; hence, the fore-mentioned “ABCD of Love.” Notice that each character’s name starts with letters that make the reference to understandable, plot-wise. Continue reading “Satu Hari Nanti (2017) – Review”

Breathe (2017) – Review

Andy Serkis’ directorial debut is a flawed but breathtaking love story saved by its powerful leads.

Review: Breathe, directorial debut from Andy Serkis—the man who should’ve gotten lifetime achievement for dedication to performance capture, is surprisingly a grounded, imperfect but breathtaking love story inspired by  Robin Cavendish, a responaut who survived from paralyzing polio, and his loving wife, Diana.

Andrew Garfield, as per his recent standard, is astonishing as Robin, an energetic British tea-broker who ventures in Africa. His social fluidness helps him winning over Diana Blacker’s (Claire Foy, The Crown) heart, despite her reputation as a professional heartbreaker. Love blooms quickly and, before long, Robin marries Diana before his tenure in Kenya began. Yet, life gives as quickly as it takes. During Diana’s pregnancy with Jonathan Cavendish (who apparently becomes the film’s executive producer), Robin falls sick as he inhales polio virus and was paralyzed from the neck down. With three months to live—according to doctor’s initial diagnosis—and weak will to live, only Diana’s love nurtures him back to life Continue reading “Breathe (2017) – Review”

Hujan Bulan Juni (2017) – Review: A less-narrative visual poetry

Review: Hujan Bulan Juni (literally ‘June’s Rain), an adaptation of Sapardi Djoko Damono’s poetic novel, presents a complicated yet colorful romance thread between two lecturers. There are lots more than modest love story and exchanging of poems in the plot; however, this adaptation decides to present it more like a visual poem than a narrative apparatus.

It’s a grown-up love story about hesitation and love in the intersection of past and future. Pingkan (Veloxe Vexia), a Japanese Literature lecturer, will go to Japan for further studies; yet, before leaving, Sarwono (Adipati Dolken), an Anthropology lecturer and her lover, asks her to accompany him for the university affairs in Manado, Pingkan’s hometown. Unbeknownst to them, fear of Pingkan’s intersecting past and future engulfs Sarwono. Through poems, Sarwono attempts to warn his lover; and through poems, Pingkan attempts to convince her lover. Continue reading “Hujan Bulan Juni (2017) – Review: A less-narrative visual poetry”

Posesif (2017) – Review: A juggernaut of teenage romance

Review: This is Lala’s first love; yet, Yudhis wants it to be their forever. That’s how Posesif abridges its powerful content. It’s a high-school meet-cute that blossoms, escalates, grows as quickly as it spirals out of control. It’s a portrayal of how love is addressed as a tool to possess and how immaturity is outdoing the typical puppy love tropes and ending up in a chain of abusive relationship.

Even in his most mainstream tenure, Edwin (Blind Pigs Who Wants to Fly, Postcards from Zoo) can still channel his arthouse virtuoso and turn a sub-genre considered as ‘cheesy’ to a poignant, insightful observation of toxic teenage relationship. Under his direction upon Gina S. Noer’s script, coming-of-age relationship is depicted as an acrimonious force, which haunts both parties, in the name of love. Continue reading “Posesif (2017) – Review: A juggernaut of teenage romance”