‘Tayo sa Huling Buwan ng Taon’ review: Past and present tension
Nestor Abrogena’s Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa has the sparsest of narratives.
The film, which is essentially a series of conversations between Sam (Nicco Manalo) and his student Isa (Emmanuelle Vera) set in train stations and school corridors, relies on restraint and nuance to veil the moral dilemmas plaguing the romance being depicted. The obvious charms of the film suddenly become harder to swallow as soon as the context of its characters’ intimate relationship is revealed, bringing to the fore a discourse on the complexities that inhabit the simple pleasures of loving and being loved.
Continuing the story
Tayo sa Huling Buwan ng Taon continues the story without necessarily complicating it.
It opens with one of the oldest tricks in the book, showing Sam in school texting his partner sweet messages before cutting to Isa at work receiving her partner’s text messages. Abrogena first teases of a happy ending for the secret lovers of Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa, then reveals that both Sam and Isa have separated and are presumably happy in their respective relationships. Sam is deeply in love with his co-teacher (Anna Luna) while Isa is ready to leave for San Francisco with her boyfriend (Alex Medina).
Tayo sa Huling Buwan ng Taon again doesn’t cling to plot but instead fixates itself in everyday conversations, in routines, and in the mundane. It commits to mood. It is elegantly structured, with its scenes cutting from one character to the other without rushing. It is also meticulously framed and gorgeously lighted, with every scene mirroring the complex emotions that have been left simmering for years.
The film builds tension through glib and glamour, allowing bits and pieces of resounding unease to invade intimate and private spaces that supposedly exude stability. Abrogena’s sequel isn’t so much interested in depicting what comes after a blatantly imperfect romance that thrives in secrets and corners, but in expounding the repercussions of those imperfections, in completing the portrait of individuals committed to their frailties in the midst of loving.
Manalo is splendid here.
He acts with astounding understanding and pathos for the delicate history his character has to shoulder while trying to find simple joys and pleasures in his present relationship. His performance is impeccably calibrated, beginning gently and mundanely before suddenly erupting with a convincing blend of conviction and confusion. He brilliantly plays the lonely man who is surrounded with people, always looking empty amidst the chaos and activity that revolve around him.
Vera is fine too. Here, she is allowed to explore more precise emotions, to venture beyond the appeal of relatable conversations to an area of vulnerability.
However, it is Luna who contributes vastly to the affecting melancholy of the picture. In all the film’s discourse on the lovers being left as victims of circumstance, of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, it is Luna who fully captures the sorrowful essence of being emotionally left out amidst appearances of normalcy.
Calm yet quaint
Tayo sa Huling Taon ng Buwan is calm yet quaint.
In allowing its characters to be more than just lovers trapped in impaired romances and be sons and daughters, friends and co-workers, the film becomes a story that is less about love and more about life. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.
Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.