Out of a 100: 100 Tula Para Kay Stella

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We walked into a quite packed cinema to watch the LFS; we were 10 minutes early, and had to be seated at the front because there were barely any other nice seats. It was surprising to see a lot of students among the crowd, considering this wasn’t a film featuring a popular love team with an established fan base. And this was not a rom-com either.

So the film opened with JC Santos’ Fidel who has this speech defect (stuttering), a college freshman, 17! I thought it was hard to believe he was 17 but anyways. The opening sequences already right away established a throwback feel – mid2000s and I bet a lot of the young watchers couldn’t get the allusions. I felt old at that point.

You know it’s a Jason Paul Laxamana work when it’s set in Pampanga, but there was little attempt to make it a “local film”. In fact, it could have been set anywhere else. The movie would still work.

Okay so I won’t attempt to make this ‘review’ technical because I know nothing on those aspects anyway. Although I can say the attention to detail to subtly establish the milieu was impressive. In terms of the look, the film didn’t offer something groundbreaking (not that it needs to), but I think it works in a way that you know this was a rather simple, laid-back storytelling to make you feel feels rather that a self-proclaimed cinematic masterpiece to set technical standards. Hanash.

Anyways, JC Santos and Bela Padilla were charming, effective, and affecting. Perfect casting. JC is so awkward as Fidel. Bela, although she does not really fit the mold as a wannabe rockstar, has infused her usual charisma into Stella’s character. Ana Abad Santos delivered, as expected, as a mentor to JC’s Fidel. (However, her character’s backstory felt out of place IMHO even when it was supposed to make sense in the end). Dennis Padilla was surprisingly pleasant to watch as a doting father to Fidel. All the other support characters didn’t really leave so much to me. Oh Prince Stefan was there to, as himself basically.

You can expect many singing moments that I was almost convinced it was a musical. There are a lot of allusions to the music scene of the 2000s and to a point, the film has used this as a punchline (AKA cringe-worthy cowboys). And quintessential artist JC sings in here, too. So he’s smart, a poet, and can sing. And a great person. So why Stella?

Now the story. I won’t spoil so no worries. Very generally speaking, 100 Tula Para Kay Stella is about chances missed, choices made, and consequences faced. It’s ultimately about love kept, given, unrequited – in the words of Fidel, too much love can make your world crumble to pieces. And yuck it’s corny.

Well, I don’t feel worthy to pass criticism but I wish the film didn’t have to expose the story that much, or left more unanswered questions so we could talk it out later.

But then again, Fidel needed some closure so he could move forward, and so did we.

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