Friday, August 04, 2017

Kita Kita (Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, 2017)

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I'm ecstatic over the box-office bonanza take of this film. Filmmaker Sigrid Andrea Bernardo continues to amaze audiences with her unique, character-driven love stories such as Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita and Lorna. Kita Kita is the latest delightful out-of-the-box concoction of Bernardo.

Kita Kita stars the unlikely couple of morena beauty Alessandra de Rossi and comedian Empoy Marquez. Empoy has a face that only...er, okay, I'll just describe it as nondescript and unremarkable. 

I have a hunch that moviegoers, upon learning of the odd pairing, immediately think of Alessandra's character as either crazy or a visually-challenged lady. They guessed right because she is both. But, these traits do not define Lea. It is only in the second half of the film that her foremost trait shone brightly.

The first half of the film shows a blind Lea (Alessandra) travelling across the different tourist spots in Sapporo, Japan. Her main companion is Tonyo (Empoy), a Filipino tourist who befriended her. Initially, the kilig/hugot scenes are not that different from other romantic films. The couple, here and there, gets to know each other better. Seen from the point of view of Tonyo, the segment is entertaining and hilarious. However, as the same kilig/hugot scenes are replayed from the point of view of Lea, the whole bittersweet segment turns special and highly memorable.

All throughout these scenes, the audience admires the craziness and braveness of Lea for trusting Tonyo as travel buddy. She may have been brokenhearted but she sure is stubborn and crazy to let a mere acquaintance accompany her. The visually-challenged lady even allows Tonyo inside her residence!

There's a crucial scene inside the home of Lea. We see Lea running her hand along the face of Empoy. Unknown to the audience, the moment she felt the moustache of Tonyo, she 'knows' who he is. This is confirmed by the heart-breaking moment when she sees her 'friend' for the first time across the street. There wasn't a tinge of surprise, disappointment, or horror upon seeing Empoy. She has a joyous smile plastered on her face. He is what she expected to see all along.

I don't know if Bernardo meant for the film to be a homage to Charlie Chaplin's legendary film City Lights. The latter tells the story of a mustachioed tramp helping a blind girl. The heart-breaking finale shows the girl recovering her sight and sees her benefactor for the first time. The ending shot closes on the face of the Tramp. He tries hard to put on a smile, which may or may not have been reciprocated.

Kita Kita eliminates any uncertainty by showing Tonyo reciprocating Lea's smile. It is just too bad that his deep love for Lea led to his 'blindness.' Film character Tonyo falls prey to the 'Love is Blind' device utilized by rom-com filmmakers. This story device has male lovers meeting untimely deaths after failing to see vehicles coming their way. Makers of these films should put up road signs that read 'Bawal tumawid ang umiibig. Nakamamatay.'

Lea must have known who her travel buddy was but it was only after reading the letter of Tonyo that she sees the big picture. Along with Lea, the audience gets to see the big picture. Kindness and goodness go a long, long, long way in helping people see clearly the beauty of the world.


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