JaDine’s ‘This Time’—win some, lose some
The love team of James Reid and Nadine Lustre has been served well by the fascinating idea of polar opposites attracting each other—a rom-com concept that JaDine’s fans find appealing, even when their movies (“Diary ng Panget,” “Talk Back and You’re Dead”) aren’t.
But, in “On the Wings of Love,” hot-to-trot TV director Antoinette Jadaone managed to construct a believable and “relatable” scenario that turned unlikely fantasy into plausible reality for the teleserye’s beleaguered lovers, Clark (Reid) and Leah (Lustre).
Now comes Nuel Naval’s “This Time,” which latches onto the same formula—but creates a situation where either one of the love birds could break his or her fragile and “seasonal” romantic affiliation—if it were expedient to do so.
The narrative conceit has so-called “Otwolistas” rallying behind globe-trotting ambassador’s grandson Coby Martinez (Reid) and Ava Buhay (Lustre), the “ordinary” dreamer who perpetually pines for his elusive affection.
Coby and Ava care for each other, but their “unlabeled” relationship only comes to life every time he comes home during his summer break.
But, as Coby gets increasingly distracted by issues involving his sickly lolo (Freddie Webb), Ava’s growing impatience over the transient nature of their relationship is beginning to take its toll on her self-esteem and makes her realize that, to the man of her dreams, all she could be is nothing but a temporary source of seasonal diversion! If they aren’t meant to be together, why prolong the agony?
After 10 years, Ava is tired of putting her life on hold for someone who refuses to acknowledge the sparks that fly between them. After all, there’s other fish in the sea—like the film’s other extracourteous tisoy, Aldrin Domingo (Bret Jackson).
The movie soars and sinks—and its fan-pandering kilig and kwela thrills are more episodic than cohesive.
But, when the jokes hit their mark, they’re laugh-out-loud funny—especially those involving Ava’s ubiquitous family (Al Tantay, Yam Concepcion and Candy Pangilinan, who’s adorable—for a change) and their running gag about the couple’s “special” relationship.
As usual, James and Nadine are appropriately cast, but their straightforward roles don’t really require a lot of thespic stretching. So, you’ll still see Nadine being predictably self-effacing or perpetually problematic, or James looking sensitive and dreamy—but perhaps that’s enough for their fans, for now.
But, the film, the tandem’s best to date, isn’t just about JaDine’s romantic dilemma. Demonstrating that true love transcends age and gender, it features tales involving geriatrics (Webb and Nova Villa) and the LGBTQ kind (Ronnie Lazaro and Michael de Mesa)—with decidedly mixed results!
Like Alex Medina in Lem Lorca’s “Echorsis,” Lazaro is an awkward fit for the swishy character assigned to him—a casting lapse that becomes more glaring when the “delightfully and believably gay” De Mesa enters the frame.
For her part, Nova wisely utilizes the limited screen time she’s given. When she sees her long-lost love for the first time, the veteran actress’ wordless first reaction alone is indelible and will tug at viewers’ heartstrings—a short but subtly moving portrayal worthy of acting awards!