TaDi Snap Shots

Friday, August 17, 2012

More Than Just A Teen Flick -- JUST ONE SUMMER Movie Review


Teen flicks, romantic comedies, chick flicks -- more often than not, they are certified hits among viewers.  But while the masses love them, critics and serious film enthusiasts see them as nothing but sweets with no nutrients.  But in a recent movie I've seen, I realized a sweet teen flick can actually have meaning... can actually provide nourishment, if done right.  I'm talking about GMA Films' recent offering JUST ONE SUMMER starring one of today's most in-demand and hottest love teams Julie Anne San Jose and Elmo Magalona. 

Directed by Mac Alejandre, the film also veteran actors Alice Dixson as Irene Lune – Cuaresma, Cherry Pie Picache as Julie, Joel Torre as Daniel Cuaresma Sr., Boboy Garovillo as Berting and Ms. Gloria Romero as Lola Meding. Completing the powerhouse ensemble are Arkin Magalona, Sheena Halili, Lexi Fernandez, Sef Cadayona, Steven Silva, Diva Montelaba, Benedict Campos, Ken Chan, Joana Marie Tan, Diva Montelaba, Ana Feleo, Mon Confiado, Mega Unciano, Maey Bautista and Betong Sumaya.

JUST ONE SUMMER tells the story of Nyel and Beto who find love during one fateful summer.  In the story, Elmo Magalona portrays the role of Daniel “Nyel” Cuaresma Jr., a rich boy who dreams of becoming a doctor while Julie Anne San Jose breaths to life the character of Maria Bettina “Beto” Reyes Salazar, a young lass who finds various honest ways to finance her college education.

As Nyel prepares his requirements for a college education abroad, one thing is missing -- a parental consent from his father, Dan (Joel Torre). Ever since, Nyel disliked his father for leaving their family to go back to the province and take care of the farm. His dad will only sign the waiver if Nyel spends his last summer vacation in the country with him -- leaving Nyel with no choice.

Meanwhile, Beto doesn’t know how to tell her dad Berting (Boboy Garovillo), that she didn’t get the college scholarship that he was expecting. To save some money for her tuition, Beto then looks for a job in a nearby farm owned by Dan. To her surprise, Dan assigns her to look after his son Nyel, who happens to be her long time crush.

As their characters clash, will their summer have a happy ending? Will love and happiness finally blossom in their lives in just one summer?

Casting, Acting
Julie Anne San Jose and Elmo Magalona are more known to be musical performers, Julie Anne being a pop singer while Elmo being a rapper.  I didn't expect much from them in this film, in fact, I was quite afraid how their performances will turn out.  But they proved me wrong.  Julie Anne proved her potential to be a sensitive performer while Elmo fit the role very well.  Julie Anne was full of innocence and emotion which makes her a natural actress. Elmo on the other hand played a more difficult role but was able to carry it out.  More often, his scenes with Joel Torre are so intense that sometimes I could hardly breathe.  To be a little personal about it, I got carried away in one of the scenes as I remembered how my father and I had disagreements when he was still alive.

Then while we appreciate the raw talent from the two, a strong back-up was given to them as well by Joel Torre, Alice Dixson, Buboy Garovillo, Cherry Pie Pechache and Gloria Romero.  Among the five, Joel gave the most brilliant performance, perhaps because he had the most emotionally charged scenes with Elmo Magalona.  (A giant step up from his less than one minute stint at The Bourne Legacy movie where we just saw his side view!).  In those scenes, I just could feel the tension and yet the concern for the father and son not to break apart.  Alice Dixson was also superb in her performance.  She was so convincing not just as a doctor but as an estranged wife to Joel Torre.  From screams to facial expressions, Alice nailed it with class.  Cherry Pie, as expected is brilliant but her most commendable contributions are the comedic parts.  But of course, she was also brilliant in her few dramatic moments.  Buboy Garovillo is a scene stealer with his fabulous delivery of punchlines, hidden in serious lines!  :)  Gloria Romero is also a notable contribution as the loving and understanding Lola Meding who was also funny in several scenes.

Direction, Story, Screenplay
Mac Alejandre has been a master of romantic drama and romantic comedy movies but JUST ONE SUMMER is quite different among his masterpieces.  As mentioned, while the movie may be considered a sweet teen flick, it offers more than just sugar coating.  And it's actually possible!  In fact, I can see the movie more of a family drama with teenagers being in the lead cast.  The conflict is not just about and doesn't focus too much on the love affair between the two main characters but on how they live their lives at a young age, how they face challenges and find happiness and meaning to it as much as they can.  Audience should notice also the value for education stressed in the film, which is used as a major backdrop in the conflicts of the story.  

Although it's a family drama, teenagers need not feel distant about it as the movie, while may be meaty and full of lessons, is equally entertaining.  Thanks to its very efficient story and screenplay.  Comedic lines were hidden in serious lines but when delivered, brought down the house!    Watch out for #alitaptap #gatas and a lot more!  :D

I noticed though that while Elmo's dilemma provided so much meat in the film, Julie Anne's part was left behind towards the end of the movie.  In fact, it was not even concluded.  I think that's an imbalance the writer should have fixed.  The flashback used on Joel's and Alice's separation is misleading.  Although there was a secret revealed and it's related to that scene, the way that part was shot is not justified and was plain misleading.

I wish as well that one of the parents in the character had another cause of ailment, perhaps an accident not a stroke or heart attack.  At least in an accident, recovery may be quite faster.  Recovering from stroke or heart attack, which is massive as shown in the film, takes time.  

I also wish that the characters of Julie Anne and Elmo living with their limitations as a "couple" is true up to this time.  Well, I know teens who are really properly guided by their families and church can actually be like them but generally speaking, I don't know.  But still, it's a welcome treat for me so that the fans and other teens or tweens who will watch the movie may be influenced in a good way. 

Regarding the title, I think a better and more appropriate one should be just ONE SUMMER.  Oh wait, I mean omit the JUST in the title and keep ONE SUMMER!  :D  Why?  It's because the experience the characters had during that summer is life changing, and calling it JUST ONE SUMMER doesn't give it justice.  If you say JUST ONE SUMMER, it could be misinterpreted as the love and the changes were just true during that time, in JUST ONE SUMMER.  My reco is ONE SUMMER because it's ONE SUMMER that changed their lives forever. 

Cinematography, Production Design
Cinematography is glossy and I love how the camera moves around and explores angles.  I noticed that Mac loves a lot of top shots and I do like it especially if the landscape or set is so beautiful!  Needless to say, I fell in love with the farm's setting (is the lake same as the one in Moments of Love?) and the houses, both the large ones and the nipa hut.  I also love the countryside scenes as it brings out the best in real Filipino culture. 

However, there was a scene where the two major characters dated, I welcome it, it's a refreshing break from the emotionally charged parts, but I just don't find it realistic that they dressed up that way and walked on the beach.  I was hoping at that time that they changed clothes, so it could be more convincing. 

Musical Score
Bakit Ba Ganyan and Girl Be Mine are two of the songs that were used in the movie and I think they were good choices.  It lifts up the emotion and sets the mood.  I just wish that they also maximize Julie Anne's hit song I'll Be There as it can really blow the audience away! 

Side Notes
I watched the movie during the premiere night so you could expect the screams, shouts, jumps, cries, laughs and dialogues of fans I witnessed while seeing the movie.  While it was difficult for me listening to some of the dialogues in the movie while the fans are screaming up to the top of their voice, I somehow got entertained on how they reacted to the film.  Imagine this, the OBB was just being shown but there was already a "commotion" of the excited fans! :D  So what more can you expect each moment that Julie Anne or Elmo comes out of the screen?  It was riot!  Haha. 

Aside from being entertained and being moved by the film's story, something that the audience can bring home are the life's lessons shared in a non-preachy way.  Honesty, Trust, Respect, Value for Education, Family and Love -- the movie is just so rich in these and teenagers and non-teenagers alike can really learn a lot from JUST ONE SUMMER. From a scale of 1 to 10 claps, I'm giving JUST ONE SUMMER a sweet 7, packed with screams from the fans!  :D

From GMA Films, JUST ONE SUMMER opens in theaters starting August 15 in more than 100 theaters nationwide.

Official Trailer
Here's the official full movie trailer of JUST ONE SUMMER:

Photo Source: Julie Anne San Jose's Page, pep and gmanetwork.com.

And that has been the TaDi way!  Have a lovely and inspiring day!  :)

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