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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.

Aug 25, 2019


kathryn and alden with director cathy molina

WE FINALLY saw ‘HELLO, LOVE, GOODBYE’ which is now making box office history. Who would have thought that a movie with stars who are identified with more established love teams would click with moviegoers? But it seems the pairing of the top box office Kapamilya actress with the top Kapuso young actor proved to be irresistible to the public, add to this the fact it turns out that they have surprisingly good chemistry on the big screen.

The story is not really ground breaking. We’ve had so many films before about OFW’s and about young lovers who don’t really end up with each other as they give priority to their career or personal life, just like in the recent “Between Maybes” where Julia Barretto chose her career as a movie star over Gerald Anderson who’s an OFW in Japan.

Kathryn Bernardo is Joy, but her name is surely a misnomer as it’s apparent she has a joyless existence. She says things don’t last in Hong Kong and it serves mainly as a stop over. We then see her working hard as a DH (domestic helper) doing the most menial things in the apartment of her boss (a single mom with a disabled daughter and a senile mother) and always rushing and running to do things in order to survive in fast-paced Hong Kong.

We also get to meet her friends who are all working hard as housemaids to earn a living for the families they left in their home country. To earn more, the workaholic Joy has a sideline doing buy and sell and also moonlights illegally as a waitress in a bar where she meets Alden Richards as Ethan, a bartender.

Ethan is instantly smitten with her, but she resists the obvious mutual attraction with him as she is deadset on going to Canada to be able to get her family later on. Both Joy and Ethan have their own sob stories concerning their respective families.

Joy is actually a nurse and she meets by chance her former boyfriend (Jerome Ponce) in a Hong Kong train with his pregnant wife. Her mom (Maricel Laxa) is living in Hong Kong as the battered wife of a Chinese national, while her disabled dad (William Lorenzo) is living in Manila with her two younger siblings. You’d really admire her for prioritizing her responsibility for them, even sacrificing her own personal life.

Ethan seems to be a carefree womanizer but it turns out he has his own sad back story. He has once fallen in love and tried to migrate to the States with his girlfriend then (Maxine Medina in a cameo role). But she dumps him and he returns to Hong Kong a broken man, abhorred by his sullen younger brother (Jameson Blake) who is taking care of their invalid dad (Lito Pimentel) in Hong Kong.

The film, co-written by Molina with Carmi Raymundo and Rona Co, pays tribute to “Anak” starring Vilma Santos, a movie also about an OFW in Hong Kong and the clip of Ate Vi’s best scene in “Anak” is shown here. It also aims to be a crowdpleaser and the beauty pageant for domestic helpers shown in the award-winning docu, “Sunday Beauty Queen”, is reprised here when Joy and her friends all join the contest and Joy herself wins as a runner up.

Joy tries her best to resist Ethan as she’s leaving Hong Kong in four months, but you know very well how this familiar formula goes and Ethan’s persistence will eventually pay off.  He then tries to convince her that she can also find happiness in Hong Kong, but we all know that this won’t happen.

She has to leave as the movie’s very title itself indicates that. And they have to be separated so there can be a sequel, just like with the movies of John Lloyd Cruz and Sarah Geronimo that proved to be such a hit that their first film together, “A Very Special Love” in 2008 quickly had a Part 2 the next year, “You Changed My Life”. The third installment came in 2013 in “It Takes a Man and a Woman”.

Some very commercial tropes in the movie with the expected quotable “hugot” lines can make it cheesy, but what makes it easier to take and quite affecting is that both Alden and Kathryn are so consistently persuasive in their respective roles, making the movie more than your usual familiar romantic drama.

You will truly sympathize with what they’re going through and root for both of them as they make us feel that their struggles and the choices they have to make are all for real and not just mere plot mechanics.

This movie will no doubt help boost Alden’s career big time. He’s been doing soaps with GMA-7 for so long, but didn’t attain superstar status until “Eat Bulaga” got him and paired him with Maine Mendoza for their phenomenal AlDUb love team. Now, as their love team wanes, it’s Star Cinema that comes along to make him a real big box office star. 

Kathryn is dead serious all throughout the movie and it’s Alden who gets to balance his performance with some humorous “pakwela” scenes and he handles both dramatic and light scenes quite well, especially when he says “sorry, but I don’t love you”, when he means the opposite. His looks were even altered here to make it distinct from his AlDub look before.

The film also pays homage to Hong Kong and it slightly turns into a travelogue towards the end as Alden and Kathryn get to feature some places not usually frequented by tourists.