Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla depict problems of long-term couples in the romance drama The Hows Of Us.
Director Cathy Garcia Molina shows that given the right push, the Kathniel love team can be relied on to show their vulnerable side in order to give a heartfelt performance.
The Hows of Us can be divided into two parts: the past and the present. These two halves feel like two different movies. While the past has the makings of an emotional drama that tries to be authentic, the present is a typical romantic comedy.
In the past, George (Kathryn Bernardo) falls wildly in love with Primo (Daniel Padilla), a smart but hot-headed young man who is pursuing a music career. The two live together in a house bequeathed by George's grandmother.
George is very supportive of Primo's dreams of making it in the music industry, so she carries the most weight in the relationship, working in the day to provide for Primo's needs while studying at night to become a doctor.
When it becomes clear that Primo's pursuit is a futile effort, mostly because he cannot control his temper, George realizes that all her sacrifices are for nothing.
One fateful night, she breaks down and tells Primo to leave their house. However, George is still full of regret even after Primo has left.
These scenes in the past are magnificent. They are expertly-crafted, excellently helmed by ace director Cathy Garcia Molina and screenwriter Carmi Raymundo. The breakup scene, in particular, is very moving. It's heartbreaking to see Kathryn's George enumerate the reasons for the failure of a seven-year relationship, and it's doubly aching to see Daniel's Primo cry silently while listening to her.
The two actors, known for young and cutesy roles, get to flex their acting skills in a more mature material. It is their best performance yet.
Sadly, the second half of the movie is just not as good. Here, Primo goes back to George's house after two years to try to win her back.
This part of the story undoes the serious tone established by the first half. It morphs into a generic romantic comedy that's full of tricks that have already been done in past romantic comedies.
This shift in tone is problematic because it makes the viewer doubt the motivations of the characters. George was supposedly angry in the past, so why is she acting cute with Primo in the present? The stakes were high in their previous fight but when they reunite, the issues are set aside, making it look like a simple lover's quarrel.
Moreover, there are scenes that are just there for fan service. They don't move the plot; they exist just so that fans of the Kathniel tandem have something to gush about.
Fan service is fine, of course, but they should be kept at a minimum. Too much of them slows down the movie and bores the audience.
Two-thirds into The Hows of Us, the lead characters are shown biking while sharing dad jokes. This sequence is amusing, sure, but it drags the movie down because it does not move the plot forward.
In fact, the Amsterdam biking scene gained groans and yawns from the audience of a packed theater where this reviewer was watching. Majority of these viewers were Kathniel fans.
This is the main issue with this Star Cinema movie. It wants to tell a good story, but the delivery constantly gets bogged down by unnecessary fluff.
There are several scenes in The Hows of Us that indicate that it could be truly great. The breakup scene, in particular, is mind-blowingly good and might even be considered award-worthy.
Unfortunately, these scenes are so few in a film that's still feels like a stereotypical romantic comedy. Sayang.
The Hows Of Us is graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board.
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