How many beginnings does love need to persist? Carlo Aquino and Bela Padilla explore the tale of love and loss in the romance drama Meet Me in St. Gallen.
The film opens with Celeste (Bela Padilla) struggling to please her demanding and demeaning boss in her company where she works as a graphic designer. Shortly after, we get introduced to Jesse (Carlo Aquino), an aspiring singer who is forced to study medicine by his parents.
Just as the two were seemingly having the worst day of their lives, they meet under the most unlikely of circumstances – stranded in a coffee shop due to heavy rain.
The two immediately form a deep bond, from Celeste’s witty banters to Jesse’s charming comebacks. They spend the whole night together marked by intimate conversations and plenty of alcohol. They eventually seal the night with a kiss. Worried that if they go further, things might get complicated, Celeste says goodbye to Jesse.
Little do they know that fate has more in store for them in the coming years.
Meet Me in St. Gallen is reminiscent of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise trilogy, where the two lead characters become unafraid to form a discourse about their deepest thoughts even though they had just met. They are also given another opportunity to meet in the future, and they discover that the connection has yet to cease.
Audiences are treated to Carlo Aquino and Bela Padilla’s undeniable onscreen chemistry, partnered with a scenic backdrop that is undoubtedly a testament to the film’s cinematography. The picturesque shots of St. Gallen will make viewers curious about this dreamy place located in northeastern Switzerland.
It is incredible to see the two stars bring life to their characters who meet at different points in their lives.
Carlo definitely makes his mark in Philippine cinema once again through this comeback project. He is able convey a myriad of emotions through his expressive eyes and body language. The child actor has grown up to be a charming leading man who deserves a second look.
As Celeste, Bela was simply electric on all levels. She was able to totally differentiate this character from previous roles she did in the past.
For a film that relied on dialogue to carry out its story, the phrases used by the characters felt ultimately forced and downright awkward at times.
Most conversations felt as though both characters tried their hardest to seem profound. Unfortunately, the chemistry between the two actors was not enough to salvage this.
Yes, Meet Me in St. Gallen was reminiscent of the Before Sunrise trilogy, yet it made you think about a rushed, less polished version of it in terms of the exchanges between the two lead characters.
Naming the lead characters Celeste and Jesse as a nod to the international film Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012) also seemed unnecessary, as it did not contribute or add value at all to the plot’s progression, hence, making it appear tired and simply uninspired.
Directed by Irene Villamor, Meet Me in St. Gallen is a film made for anyone who ever had to go through shrugging off the lingering feeling brought by a lost love.
It is a story about the danger of building an image of someone in your head, only to realize that the ideal image you built is simply made of flesh and bones, and a whole lot of complications and imperfections. This film shows how some feelings remain even though life goes on.
As we grow older, we also realize that sometimes the love we once felt may have been an illusion.
An illusion of the things we had hoped for in the future, or an illusion of the past we now see through rose-colored glasses.
Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.