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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Sep 30, 2016

Barcelona: A Love Untold Movie Review - Well Made Fan Movie That Accomplishes Its Intentions To Make Kathniel Play More Mature Roles

WE WENT to two malls on the first day of showing of “Ang Babaeng Humayo” as we can’t wait to see it, only to find out that its screening hours start only from 5 PM and above. This gave us the chance to finally watch “Barcelona: A Love Untold” and we’re happy to report that it’s a well made fan movie. Kathniel fans will surely enjoy it, especially the ending which shows them smooching to their heart’s content after some tentative and unconsummated tries throughout the film.

Daniel Padilla is Ely, and we see him at the film’s opening scene being greeted by his dad (Joey Marquez) and family on his birthday. It turns out that this is just an old video and it’s his girlfriend Celine who’s taking the video so we don’t see her face. Ely is watching it on his cellphone while inside a train in Barcelona, Spain.

It’s obvious that Celine is already gone by this time, but it’s only much later that we’ll find out what happened to her. Inside the train, Ely sees Mia (Kathryn Bernardo), who he thinks is Celine, and follows her. He calls her “Celine!” And she barks annoyed: “Hindi ako si Celine!” We thought the more proper response to a total stranger is “Hindi Celine ang pangalan ko.”

They cross paths again and again until Ely sees her so drunk, about taken inside a hotel by a foreigner, and rescues her. So that’s how the relationship of the future lovers starts. Ely went to Barcelona to finish his architecture degree, on a scholarship financed by the parents of the late Celine (Cris Villanueva and Liza Dino). He also holds three jobs to help finance the needs of the demanding family of his dad and stepmom (Ana Capri).

Both Ely and Mia have big problems with their respective families. Ely, a lonely heart who can’t move on from losing his first love, is the milking cow of his dad. He also has big mommy issues with his mom (Isabel Lopez) who left him and his dad when he was a child and remarried in Spain. Mia, in turn, has big daddy issues with her dad (Ricky Davao) who’s forcing her to be a lawyer and who got so mad when she was disgraced in school for being caught cheating in an exam. She leaves for Barcelona to prove she can redeem herself but ends up homeless and penniless.

Ely helps Mia by making her stay in the apartment where he lives with his aunt (Aiko Melendez) and cousin (Joshua Garcia). He also helps her find a job but she’s always having problems that not a day passes without Mia shedding buckets of tears and she looks like she actually enjoys wallowing in tears. They indulge in a surfeit of seemingly endless series of overly emotional dramatic scenes and whiny arguments that kinda wears you down and becomes quite annoying after a while.

 But if you’re a diehard Kathniel fan, you wouldn’t mind at all as they both do quite well in the well engineered and belabored dramatic scenes whose aim is to present them as more mature performers who suffer a lot. We think the film succeeds in that objective, but somehow, you’d miss their winsome charm and playfulness in their past movies, like “She’s Dating the Gangster” and “Crazy Beautiful You”.

Between the two, it’s Daniel with his puppy dog eyes who exhibits more maturity in emoting as he doesn’t have to resort to caterwauling all the time, the way that Kathryn does. His best scenes are not actually with her but with Isabel Lopez (who’s also excellent), first in that restaurant scene where he finally gets to tell her upfront how much he hates her for leaving him as a child hungry for his mother’s love, and later, when he visit her at her new home with his half siblings and learns to forgive her.

The film runs for more than two hours and there are so many “laylay” moments, particularly the scenes where Ely and Mia shoot pre-nuptial videos that bog down and do not help forward the film’s narrative. Made on location in Barcelona and Director Olivia Lamasan makes sure they shoot several outdoor scenes using its well known landmarks as the backdrop, notably the gaudy monstrosity called Sagrada Familia of Gaudi. It’s not as satisfying as the better written “Sana Maulit Muli” shot in 1995 in the U.S.A., but we feel it’s a notch better than “Milan” shot in 2004 in Italy about a husband searching for his wife who doesn’t really want to be found. Those who look for a relevant story about OFW’s in Barcelona need to go to another movie as this film is not at all concerned with the Filipino diaspora.