‘My Letters to Happy’ review: Beyond good intentions
Good intentions do not necessarily make a good film.
Given up on dating
Thankfully, while Pertee Briñas’ My Letters to Happy is more a film that stands out because of its advocacy, it doesn’t scrimp on crafting. There is more to it than its plea to understand mental health issues since it also works as a tenderly told love story and an adequate character study of a man pushed to find his purpose.
Albert (TJ Trinidad) has given up on dating.
He tells his mother that he would rather spend his time at work than go through the routine of finding love. After the death of his mother, he decides to give online dating a chance and is matched with Happy (Glaiza de Castro), a recruiter whose happy-go-lucky attitude intrigues and charms him. Albert eventually lets go of his guard and falls in love. He knows that Happy, beneath her sparkly exterior, is suffering from frequent bouts of depression.
My Letters to Happy lures with its promise of an affecting romance between two would-be lovers whose personalities do not jive. It uses romance as a jumpboard for its more noble goal.
Culled from stereotype
My Letters to Happy is structured like a traditional rom-com, with its characters seemingly culled from stereotypes.
Albert is the hardened man of the world with no time for nonsense. Happy is the girl who will change all that with her carefree ways. Briñas maximizes the hook, utilizing several tropes such as the framing device of the titular letters to Happy that guide the narrative with spoken nudges for theme and emotion.
Eventually, the film separates from the well-traveled path of the escapist love story and burrows further to reality as it starts dealing with Happy’s condition.
Without the crutch of the reliable delights of a predictable love story, Briñas has to rely on the strength of the performances of Trinidad and De Castro. Thankfully, they deliver. My Letters to Happy adeptly bridges the gap between romance and advocacy. While the film eventually abandons subtlety, it never appears desperate to air its slogans. It stays true to its plot and delivers a satisfying finish to the tale of stoic Albert.
Flaws and deficiencies
My Letters to Happy is thankfully a film that doesn’t use its good intentions to bandage its flaws and deficiencies. In fact, its advocacy goes hand in hand with its charms. — 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.