‘Relaks, It’s Just Pag-Ibig’ Review: Love letter to teen romance

Love is not meant to be rocket science. In Antoinette Jadaone and Irene Villamor’s Relaks, It’s Just Pag-Ibig, it is shown to be as simple and easy as a flirty tweet, an emoticon-filled Instagram update, a dramatic change in relationship status in Facebook, a “yes” via text message, or an old-fashioned telegrammed message. It just happens, and it just needs to be proclaimed. 

 

Love’s complications however, are what make love stories worth telling. The most enduring love stories are the ones wherein love triumphs against the worst of odds. We are drawn to the drama, to the promise that there is a happy ending beyond the string of trials and tribulations.

In the name of a love letter 

Sari (Sofia Andres), the home-schooled daughter of Angono-based artists, has patiently waited to witness the happy ending to the love story discovers when she finds a love letter from a certain Elias to his beloved Salome, while vacationing in Leyte. In the letter, the two lovers are supposed to meet a year later in the same spot on the beach, to witness the rare blue moon and be in love forever.

When Josh (Inigo Pascual), a spoiled playboy-in-the-making, accidentally leaves his cellphone in Sari’s house while on a field trip, Sari suddenly finds the perfect buddy to travel with to witness the culmination of her love letter’s open-ended romance.

The two develop an unlikely friendship, which slowly turns into something else while traveling from the predictability of the city to Leyte. 

Midway, Kiko (Julian Estrada), Sari’s best friend who has returned from Singapore to fulfil his promise to go with Sari to Leyte, joins the fray, creating tension that will test Josh’s blooming appreciation of both Sari and her indefatigable faith in love.

Love in the time of raging hormones

Relaks, It’s Just Pag-Ibig celebrates teenage frivolity, and all the beautiful things resulting from it. In a time where most characters from romantic comedies strangely act out of their age groups, with teenagers wallowing like adults and adults swooning like adolescents, the movie’s stubborn insistence to stay true to the spirit of youth pays off.

It deserves its blatant gloss, its candy-colored landscapes, its fantastical encounters, and all its bloated cheese. For all its brash exaggerations, the film never neglects the little details that ground its lovers’ adventures to reality. 

The two kids, despite their joint mission to see the blue moon, are still mindful of the world around them. They acknowledge social divides, gender issues, even human rights. Heck, these kids even sputter bad words with carefree abandon. 

There is enough in the film to elevate its central love story into something more worthwhile, without completely mutating it.

Relaks, It’s Just Pag-Ibig sticks to the formula, but it also peppers it with tons of humanity. The film’s most magical moments happen when the common tropes of the genre seamlessly gel with the film’s unique quirks.

Relax, it’s just a rom-com

Relaks, It’s Just Pag-Ibig has a heart as big as the universe. It does not demean teenage love, the same way a lot of romances do with their patronizing attitude towards the happily-ever-after whims of their barely legal leads. It just portrays it with all the fireworks it deserves. 

The film is adorable in all its simplicity. In its effort to stray away from the treacherous road to becoming that great romance where love survives even against the toughest of adversities, it achieves something more – something a lot more poignant. It makes love truly relatable, even if it is between a purple-haired lass and a sheltered brat.

Love, as fluently relayed by Jadaone and Villamor in this fine film, is not and should not be treated like rocket science. It just happens. – 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.