Teenage-love drama Vince & Kath & James barely fits in the confines of its represented genre.
It seems reinvented, bizarre even, but feels overly familiar for the most part. That’s not to say it defies the character of the very formula from which it struggles to keep itself distant, but the measures it takes to do so, are refreshingly unusual.
There’s a bunch of adorable things to see in this film adaptation of the popular "online-serye," Vince and Kath, a coming-of-age story focusing on two young individuals who met through text messaging.
In this Star Cinema film, Vince (Joshua Garcia) is an electrical engineering student who starts falling in love with his beautiful friend, Kath (Julia Barretto). However, he can’t quite find ways to personally let her know about his feelings, and instead writes them down, including all his frustrations, on a blog through six-word hugot lines.
Things get more complicated, however, when his cousin and best friend, James (Ronnie Alonte), who is also a popular varsity player, asks him to pretend to be Var, an imaginary character created to make Kath fall in love with.
For Vince who is known for serving as a bridge between future campus couples, the job is undeniably no-sweat. However, this is easier said than done when the character he was strictly instructed to pretend to be, becomes the representation of Vince's own feelings, and not of James, who later on eventually presents himself to Kath as her secret admirer.
Lovely in its depiction of teenage love, Vince & Kath & James weaves a light-hearted tale of adolescent romance with heartwarming sincerity.
Director Theodore "Ted" Boborol’s delicate maneuver underscores the struggle of his characters. This allows the naturally modest and comic rhythm of the film develop on its own, before hitting the major breakdown and confrontation moments, on the narrative’s way to resolution.
By any measure, this film isn’t heavy; it’s breezy for most part, enforced by cheerful upbeat songs that practically narrate how blissful young love can be.
The mood changes when it sheds light on Kath’s being fatherless and Vince’s being motherless but these ripples in the story don’t necessarily undermine the generally sunny mood of the film. In fact, these are the moments when the film’s most relatable sentiments are strongest.
Still, the screenplay’s refusal to always make a big deal out of emotionally-heavy situations, is wiser than dwelling on them, just so it could manipulate emotions and draw sympathies that it might not deserve.
Joshua Garcia is a delight in this film. His Vince nearly represents the heart and comic effort of this gentle love story, only if Kath does not share an equally sad story about a family deprived of a complete set of parents. Not only he is able to move his character from one mood to another, Joshua illustrates an intelligent gauge of his character to get all its intended messages across. He is particularly convincing in a scene he shared both with Julia and Ronnie, and one with Ina Raymundo.
Julia Barretto has some surprising acting chops that might remind moviegoers of her aunt Claudine Barretto, which may not be totally surprising as the film itself particularly pointed that out by featuring Claudine and Rico Yan’s hit film, Got 2 Believe.
Ronnie Alonte struggles to grant weight to his character James, but his charming demeanor indispensably makes up for his little deficiencies.
Maris Racal's Maxine provides strong comic support, her delivery is just right and is never forced.
Drawn to the small and tender epiphanies of adolescence, of love, of life in general, Vince, Kath, and James ultimately become the embodiment of who we are and who we can be.
Rarely does a film without a named villain, appeal to the audience with palpable tension. Surprisingly, in this film, the conflict and struggle emanate from the character themselves.
Direk Ted is wise in making this choice, effectively turning his characters into honest and accessible beings most people could relate to. The result of this option: a film bared of pretensions and unnecessary density, allowing the fragile honesty of the characters and their circumstances reflect the poignant image that the narrative is trying to create.
Vince & Kath & James is an endearing goodhearted film imbued with earnestness and compassion. It presents beautiful insights about how amazing the feeling of being in love can be, and because of its universality, it should appeal to spectators of all ages.
Ed's Note: The 'PEP Review' section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial team.