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Film review: Kita Kita

MANILA, Philippines – In the past few years, the formula for kilig (literally tickle or titillate) movies has become so predictable you are not inclined to watch another version even with different and/or recycled love teams.

Studios and their creative managers are often too busy finding chemistry between love teams and end up producing the same banana that keeps the box-office ringing and the discerning audiences looking elsewhere for relief.

Because kilig movies as they are appeal to a certain type of audiences quick to scream at the sight of their idols and end up easily pleased for as long as their idols are not harmed or displaced at the box-office.

This has paved the way for recognition nights crowning the latest Box-office King and Queen and with the so-called “box-office royalties” expected to repeat the same box-office feat over and over again with the same but hackneyed storylines.

Watching Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s Kita Kita is a breath of fresh air with an unlikely love team and an unlikely story.

The film managed to pull off a screen magic that is patently genuine and straight from the heart.

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Empoy, direk Sigrid Andrea Bernardo and Alessandra during the premiere night. The film is headed for easy public acceptance

Thus, a select Cinema 7 audience in Trinoma broke into warm, if, spontaneous applause Tuesday night after the celebrity screening with both audiences and cast overwhelmed by the film’s unusual drawing power.

Alessandra de Rossi plays the role of the Sapporo (Japan)-based tourist guide while Empoy Marquez delineates the role of an unlikely suitor probably coming to the rescue of a distraught compatriot.

Indeed, the lead actors are an unlikely love team in an unlikely romantic comedy but their love story set in Sapporo easily set it apart from other love stories.

The director who also wrote the story has woven a tale of love that is neither contrived nor formulaic. The result is enough to suspend disbelief that an OFW in the tourism sector — and temporarily blind at the time — can fall for a stranger from her home country.

From the way the audience reacted on its first screening, you get the feel of a film headed for easy public acceptance.

De Rossi is a natural actress with a kind of sensitivity that brings out the best in her co-actor. Her acting is so relaxed and spontaneous the audience could see into the heart of her character.

Marquez can’t help being a comedian but it is precisely this comic element that helps define his unusual character. He could sound like sweet-talking Lothario out to impress the love of his life but you can see the heart of gold in the character.

But in subsequent scenes, Tonyo (Marquez) is actually covering up a tragic, if, sad life with all the jokes that uses to entertain and court his loved one with.

He is probably the film’s answer to the opera Pagliacci with the character laughing on the outside and crying in the inside, so to speak. As it is, Marquez made quite an impression as De Rossi’s persistent suitor.

In this well-made film rated A by the Cinema Evaluation Board, director Bernardo defines love in another angle and in another setting with one partner blind and the other in search of a long and lasting love.

The beautiful screenplay showcased palpable chemistry between the two lovers and the result is a love story more real and believable than most romantic comedies we see these days.

(By and large, the film called to mind the equally engaging Leonard Gershe’s 1972 play, Butterflies Are Free with a male character playing the blind lover.)

With superb direction and equally excellent performance, Kita Kita should run away with the credit as an unlikely but highly triumphant, heart-tugging romantic comedy of the year.

Produced by Spring Films and Viva Films, Kita Kita is now showing in cinemas nationwide.

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