Star Crossed Love Ligo na u lapit na me
Contemporary romantic comedy
2011, colour, 1.85:1, 84 mins
Directed by Erick C. Salud
By Derek Elley
Sat, 20 August 2011, 05:22 AM (HKT)
Slim but likable college rom-com is sustained by its two leads' natural chemistry. Festivals and niche TV.
Metro Manila, the present day. On his first day at a public university, slightly geeky Karl (Edgar Allan Guzman), the son of an impoverished Marxist-turned-Christian (Simon Ibarra), is approached by the hottest girl in the class, Jenny (Mercedes Cabral). She's from a much wealthier background and has been expelled from a private Roman Catholic university for being caught in flagrante. Jenny says she doesn't want a relationship with him but wants to be his friend, and then offers Karl "fringe benefits" to their friendship during lunchtimes in a hotel. A year later Karl is still enjoying these fringe benefits but Jenny still can't make him out. She withdraws the fringe benefits but eventually restores them when Karl appears to be unconcerned. Gradually, however, she gets moodier and Karl, convinced she has a regular boyfriend, still doesn't declare his love for her. Then one day she tearfully announces some news.
Though it stars hot model-turned-actress Mercedes CABRAL (from Brillante Ma. MENDOZA's Serbis (2008) and Kinatay (2009), plus PARK Chan-wook 박찬욱 | 朴贊郁's Thirst 박쥐 (2009)) and up-and-coming young actor Edgar Allan GUZMAN (Astig), this first feature by TV director Erick C. SALUD still has a semi-indie feel in both tone and look. Essentially another college rom-com, it's driven almost entirely by dialogue rather than incident, and Alfred F. HERNANDO's HD photography, though good-looking, has a more casual, realistic air rather than a glossy patina. Very little actually happens in the movie in plot terms but, thanks to the insouciant dialogue — adapted by poet-screenwriter xxxxxxxxxx from a novel by university lecturer Eros S. ATALIA (aka "Bob Ong") — and the performances of the two leads, it makes engrossing viewing for most of its length.
Despite her announcement a couple of years ago that she was turning down nude roles, Cabral gets her clothes off again here in the many (softcore) love-making scenes — though for a movie about a relationship that appears to be entirely based on lunchtime quickies the nudity by both her and Guzman could be said to be integral to the movie. And it's certainly not the main attraction: what keeps the thin story motoring is the pure chemistry between the two players, with Cabral bringing an ironic, ingenuous twist to her role of a classroom siren and Guzman a kind of knowing spaciness to the boy in whom she meets her match.
Salud uses a range of devices familiar from other young Asian rom-coms — animated pop-ups, soundtrack voice-overs, talking direct to the camera, etc — without them becoming too slick, and the film lightly satirises religious advocacy and hardline teaching without becoming very controversial. Its main weakness is that, after a revelation at the 50-minute mark, there's a loss of momentum when the central chemistry is absent. But at only 80 minutes and with a pleasingly abrupt end, Star Crossed Love Ligo na u lapit na me (2011) doesn't push its luck beyond its limitations.
The Tagalog title is an SMS formula that means Have a Wash, I'll Be There Soon, as in two partners about to meet for some sex.
ContactSales: Noel D. Ferrer Productions, Manila (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Premiere: Cinemalaya (Competition: New Breed), 16 Jul 2011. Theatrical release: Philippines, 28 Sep 2011.
Presented by Noel D. Ferrer Productions (PH), in association with Lightscape, Total Entertainment Productions. Produced by Noel D. Ferrer Productions (PH). Executive producer: Noel D. Ferrer.
Script: Jerry B. Gracio. Novel: Eros S. Atalia (Ligo na u, lapit na me, 2009). Photography: Alfred Hernando. Editing: Charlibebs Gohetia. Music: Francis De Veyra. Production design: Angel Balangon Diesta. Stylist: Santi Obscena. Sound: Nicholas Varela, Joseph Santos, Ditoy Aguila, Junel Valencia. Visual effects: Orlean Joseph Tan. Animation: Athena L. Bonzon.
Cast: Edgar Allan Guzman (Karl "Intoy" Vladimir Lennon J. Villalobos), Mercedes Cabral (Jenny), Mel Kimura (Karl's mother), Simon Ibarra (Karl's father), Tolyts "Shalala" Reyes (pimp), Evelyn Vargas (Ms. Physics), Beverly Salviejo (Ms. Lit. Crit.), Malouh Crisologo (Ms. Ethics), Jojo Saguin (Joy), Joseph Bitangcol, Lucky Mark Mercado, Joe Vargas, Christian Tan, Ian Lazibal (classmates), Alex Tiglao (Mr. Pol. Sci.), Ardie Bascara (Jenny's ex-boyfriend), Victor Medina (Benson), Julie Anne Castro (Venus), Luis Alandry (taxi driver), Kiki Baento (floor manager).