'First Love' review: Never lasts
Clearly, Paul Soriano’s First Love is a pretty film.
If there really is a star in the film, it is cinematographer Shayne Sarte and her ability to take advantage of the already very picturesque city of Vancouver to house what essentially is a standard-issue romance that veils the sparseness of its unique impressions on love with opportune tragedy.
Think of First Love as something like a Hallmark card.
It is often eye-catching. Its attractive leads, Bea Alonzo and Aga Muhlach, comfortably blending with gorgeous vistas or homey interiors. The characters always talk with a mellow cadence, mouthing motherhood statements that are all very lovely to hear and would work wonders during miserable days. The climactic scenes are accompanied by the hippest of love songs with melodies that fit the mood to a tee.
However, as soon as the credits roll, and all the expensive eye candy is replaced by the harsher realities of everyday life, the film eventually unravels to be as thin as the cardboard used to make those Hallmark cards. First Love really is all escapist fluff. Its gentle grooves, well-timed twists, and attempts at some sort of palatable melancholy have been carefully molded to be safe for consumption by the widest of audiences.
This is a romance that is as vanilla as vanilla can get. Its most prominent fault is that it is flagrantly generic. It is almost as if First Love is terrified of stepping out of the world of love and its repercussions, of tackling things beyond the ideal romance of its main characters, of turning them into more than just troubled participants in a romance but migrants and minorities in a foreign land.
Difficult to penetrate
It isn’t as if the film is oblivious of those points.
In fact, in one of the more authentic scenes in the film, one of the character’s mother makes a clever comment that pits Muhlach’s character within the framework of the struggles of the Filipino community. However, the film glosses over those points, insisting that Vancouver is just a lovely setting and the diaspora is but a convenient background for a tragic love story.
But perhaps First Love has no intention to be more than just a story of how personal crises have brought two people together to value both love and life. Perhaps it really just wants to concentrate on delivering the most poignant of emotions without having to tackle issues that are beyond the matters of the heart. Perhaps it is really just about lovers literally dying to be with each other.
Sadly, First Love is still lacking in that regard.
The romance that Soriano constructs out of Muhlach and Alonzo feels very tentative. It isn’t so much that there is no chemistry between the two actors, although that poses a very real limitation for what the love story can achieve. The biggest problem is really the fact that the scenes that are supposed to be the centerpiece of the blossoming bond are drowning in overly sentimental dialogue or are too saccharine to a fault. The film rarely feels authentic. Its glitz and gloss are difficult to penetrate.
Simply put, Soriano’s film is fine but fleeting.
First Love never lasts. – Rappler.com