Star Cinema’s 25th anniversary offering Kasal is so easy on the eyes that for the sake of entertainment, you’ll perhaps be willing to overlook its overambition.
Director Ruel Bayani taps Derek Ramsay, Paulo Avelino, and Bea Alonzo to figure in a love triangle drama that puts a new spin on infidelity, acceptance, and forgiveness.
The film also boasts of a stellar supporting cast that include Christopher de Leon, Cherie Gil, Ricky Davao, Cris Villongco, and newbie Kylie Verzosa.
When Lia (Bea Alonzo) accepted a marriage proposal from Philip (Paulo Avelino), the scion of a political family in Cebu, she also embraced the responsibility of helping him win the mayoralty race as he attempts to replace his father.
Faced with a strong opponent, Philip’s biggest chance of winning the race lies on the long-awaited rehabilitation of a major provincial bridge.
Funding was immediately raised and a contractor from Dubai was hired by Philip’s political strategists. There’s just one problem: the firm is run by Lia’s ex-boyfriend Wado (Derek Ramsay) who secretly wants Lia back.
Things take a more sinister turn when Wado discovers a secret of Philip’s that can destroy not only his relationship with Lia but his family’s political machinations as well.
The outlandishness of the premise is bound to make any serious moviegoer to recoil at the absurdity of the plot but if one chooses to accept the film for what it is—a pumped up melodrama in the vein of soap operas—you’ll discover that the wild turn of events fleshes out an energetic script that will keep you riveted to your proverbial seat.
What I first found endearing about Kasal were the breathtaking shots of Cebu’s picturesque spots that creates an idealized provincial life that is soothing to the senses and evocative of feelings of love and romance.
It was the field of thousands of pale roses and the heritage sites that reflect the then unmolested ardour between Lia and Philip. Our inamorata herself lives in a charming Filipiniana-style house with a bright living room, wooden furniture, a wide veranda, and white curtains billowing in the breeze.
By contrast, the infectious energy of the city’s posh urbanized areas set the mood for danger and desire.
As expected, Bea delivered a powerful performance of a woman coming to terms with a string of betrayals and bad luck. But this is not something we’ve seen her do so many times already that it seems like she’s playing more of a support to Paulo Avelino’s more richly-textured character.
This may be one of Paulo's finest performances as he brings to life a man slowly losing control of his destiny and identity.
Derek once again proves that he is a provocateur extraordinaire. His sinister character stokes the fire and keeps it burning. When he resorts to despicable acts to get what he wants, one can't help but hope that karma bites him right on the ass.
In its effort to be set apart from other films about infidelity, the film suffers from being overburdened with plot details that absolutely do not make sense in a realistic setting, only serving to amplify the drama and titillate the audience even more.
But bigger is not always better. The larger-than-life personalities of characters and the outlandish turn of events lend it an almost comical feel, almost asking not to be taken seriously.
The psychotic but favored ex-girlfriend, the kontrabida and matapobre mother, the pushy father—all stock characters in a soap opera that could have been more humanized for better effect.
In the end, the multi-faceted Philip becomes the character whom we can relate to the most.
The film could have benefitted from a more streamlined plot or had it at least stayed within the natural limitations of events so the struggle will seem real.
Kasal will have two kinds of audience: one who sees the film for the plot and who will certainly find holes aplenty, and the other who will treat the plot as secondary and merely a vehicle to increase the entertainment factor of the film.
The film is ultimately saved from being insufferable by the performances which are indeed stellar even for the supporting cast.
2016 Miss International Kylie Verzosa and thespian Cris Villongco were firebrands as women who use a deep sense of amorality to advance their interests.
Kylie oozes with sex appeal and shows a ferocity that is unleashed during her steamy love scene with Derek.
Cris displays a level of intensity that is refreshing on the big screen.
Like its overarching theme of acceptance and forgiveness, Kasal should be enjoyed with a thorough suspension of disbelief. It is a passionate film that reflects on injustices both at the societal and personal level.
If you’re sorely in need of catharsis, the confrontation scenes will evoke emotions in you and hopefully seed a few pieces of inconvenient truths in your mind, leaving you with something to ponder on.
But in the end, it leaves a message of hope for the future.
For what? You’ll have to see for yourself.
Kasal is graded B by the Cinema Evaluation Board.