Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
New Filipino Cinema ’15: That Thing Called Tadhana
is a film that inspired a children’s book for adults in the Philippines. Mace
has an old romantic story about a heart and an arrow, while Anthony is a talented
illustrator. These kids are probably perfect for each other, but fate or karma
is not necessarily so accommodating in Antoinette Jadaone’s box office hit That Thing Called Tadhana (trailer here), which screens
during the 2015 edition of New Filipino Cinema at the Yerba Buena Center for
do not exactly meet cute, but Mace and Anthony first encounter each other on
the flight back from Rome. Mace had scrimped and saved to surprise her
guest-worker boyfriend Marco—and did she ever. The trip also had emotional
significance for Anthony, who made a point of seeing all the sights his beloved
late mother dreamed of seeing for herself.
first, Anthony gives the distraught Mace a bit of help, countryman to
countryman. However, when they start to talk, they really begin to listen to
each other. Instead of plunging back into their lives, they take a
Linklater-style daytrip to Bagiuo that turns into a
day-and-night-into-the-next-morning trip. As you might expect, Mace is still hung-up
on her ex, whereas Anthony is hung up on being hung-up. Obviously, they are
meant to be with each other, but Jadaone is not exactly setting us up to expect
a tidy rom-com ending.
roughly translates from Tagalog as destiny or fate. It is often sealed pretty
early and sometimes even worse than death, but it always has a fickle finger. Frankly,
it is a little surprising how bittersweet and reserved Tadhana actually is, considering what a monster hit it was
domestically. There are no fireworks scenes, but since it is in the
Philippines, there is a good deal of rain, but it is not cheesy rom-com rain.
should also be noted the co-leads are enormously winning. As Mace and Anthony,
Angelica Panganiban and JM de Guzman are cute, but hardly inapproachable
super-model waif-types. They really look like they fit together. They also have
a good handle on the dialogue (some of it reportedly improvised) that often
sounds deceptively casual but deep down is really kind of heavy. When that sort
of discourse doesn’t connect, it can be painful, but they mostly pull it off.
Granted, we have seen these sorts of film
before, besides the Before trilogy.
Recent Korean films like A Midsummer’s Fantasia and Gyeongju evoke a
similar vibe, but are far deeper and richer. Nevertheless, the charm of
Panganiban and Guzman is undeniable. Jadaone also deserves credit for avoiding cheap
sentiment and manipulation. It is a pleasant, nicely turned little film that
should be a crowd-pleaser when it screens this Sunday (6/14) and the following
Saturday (6/20) as part of New Filipino Cinema 2015 at the Yerba Buena Center
for the Arts in San Francisco.
Labels: Filipino Cinema, New Filipino Cinema '15