Love You to the Stars and Back tells the story of Mika (Julia Barretto) who is on her way to Mt. Milagros. She believes what her mother (played by Carmina Villarroel) told her about this location: it is where people go to be taken by aliens.
Along the way, she meets Caloy (Joshua Garcia), a cancer patient who is on a mission. The two go on a road trip only to find out that the true adventure is facing the challenges in their lives and falling in love with each other.
Mika and Caloy meet and accidentally go on a road trip together, finding out more about each other and eventually, falling for each other.
Direk Antoinette Jadaone has taken the electric potential of lead actors Joshua Garcia and Julia Barretto both individually and as a love team, and made them even better. Joshua and Julia deliver stellar performances, from their rhythmic banter to their painful dramatic scenes.
The cinematography by Herman Claravall makes even scenes in the woods and mountains at night very conducive to carrying the story along.
The production design by Ana Lou Sanchez is meticulous and makes an impact, down to the details on the walls of Mika’s room.
As a nod to Filipino slapstick, Direk Antoinette makes use of a scene to seemingly elicit laughter from the audience. However, we’ve seen many similar scenes many times before and it could have been handled differently and better.
Early in the film, there is a series of flashbacks featuring Carmina Villarroel as Mika’s mother. It is a beautifully executed sequence and explains a lot in little time. It is a shame that Direk Antoinette did not employ the same style in more parts of the film, for example, for Caloy’s backstory.
The soundtrack is beautiful, down to the instrumental strings. But there is a sequence when the song “Torete” intrudes on the dialogue and action that it becomes very distracting.
Joshua and Julia register so well onscreen and their chemistry is undeniable that even the most jaded can’t help but feel the kilig.
On the surface, Love You to the Stars and Back might be a romance film but it offers keen insights on dealing with terminal illness at a young age. It dares to ask painful questions that could provoke a discussion on faith (or a lack thereof).
The intense scene between Mika and Caloy at a bridge features a beautiful sequence of shots without dialogue, but full of meaning.
Will this movie do for Batangas what it did for Sagada, via another Direk Antoinette film, the breakout hit That Thing Called Tadhana? Only time will tell.
Go along for the ride and feel the rollercoaster of emotions and the satisfying ending that Direk Antoinette has so carefully crafted.
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.