Must Be Love is Star Cinema’s latest offering to fans of the KathNiel tandem.
Kathryn Bernardo plays the role of Patricia (or “Patchot” for short)—the only daughter of John Estrada’s character King Espinosa, a single father and roast pig restaurant owner.
Daniel Padilla is Ivan—Patchot’s basketball opponent turned best friend ultimately becoming the love of her life, or is he?
Must Be Love is a non-typical Star Cinema romantic-comedy coming-of-age film. For a change, it does not focus on acquiring a relationship or maintaining one but rather, it focuses on having a healthy relationship with one’s self—a welcome alternative to the slew of teen movies and romantic flicks recently released by Star Cinema and other film production companies.
The movie is similarly about change: the positive kind. John Lapus plays Ivan’s grief-stricken aunt, Tita Baby, who is experiencing difficulty getting over the death of his lover. His moving-on story and the change he undergoes parallels and complements the change Patchot similarly undergoes.
There are several formula plots that are used in the movie: Ivan and Patchot’s friends and relatives play adulating second fiddle to the tandem’s love lives; coincidences abound as Ivan randomly sees his ideal female fantasy Angel out on the street – portrayed by Star Magic Circle 2013 member Liza Soberano—who later turns out to be Patchot’s balikbayan cousin. These Star Cinema clichés are few and forgivable thanks to the movie’s well-told story.
Must Be Love is well paced. Director Dado Lumibao took his sweet time to reveal plot details without getting tedious or boring. The performances of the relatively senior cast helped make the movie convincingly engaging.
John Estrada is touching as Patchot’s confused and love-traumatized father.
John "Sweet" Lapus is compelling as the shocked-silent and heartbroken hair and make-up artist.
Cacai Bautista is hilarious and unforgettable as Sweet’s hair and make-up nemesis.
Sharlene San Pedro is adorable as Patchot’s eyes and ears and personal cheering squad.
Patchot’s transformation from a rugged tomboy to a feminine lady was similarly believable as it was relatably real and neither hurried nor exaggerated.
Daniel Padilla’s trademark Padilla-charisma and bad-boy swagger did not distract viewers from his developing acting skills. In fact, his signature moves enhanced his appeal onscreen.
There might be a few who will find these self-help-inspired lines cheesy:
John Lapus (as Tita Baby) to Kathryn’s character: “'Di ka nakikita kasi ikaw mismo nagtatago.”
“Makikita mo at mararamdaman mo na maganda ka at karapat-dapat.”
“`Di ang mata ko o tatay mo mapagpapaalam sa 'yo niyan, tanging mata mo lang.”
Patchot: “Ang tunay na pag-ibig [ay] kung paano natin mamahalin ang sarili natin.”
“Kung mahal mo ang sarili mo, makikita ka rin ng taong mahal mo.”
Fortunately, Must Be Love is not just about “girls na bine-best friend at gini-girlfriend.” It’s more than that. It is mainly about a girl being more comfortable in her own skin as she begins to see herself and appreciate her uniqueness.
Though a tad corny, it is a truth most teens—obsessed with being liked by someone like Daniel Padilla and who are still getting used to their own skin—need to hear and know.
The movie was able to balance aspirational romance with grounded truth and uncontrived humor. It is also a perfect teen movie recommended not just for KathNiel fans but also for adults who might have also been traumatized by something they thought was love.
Must Be Love is a rare film that is cute and light as much as it is serious and heavy, content-wise.
(CLICK HERE to view photos of the premiere night)