Caridad Sonia or Carson (Maja Salvador) and Dio (Paulo Avelino) have been best friends for seven years while college students in U.P. She’s taking up social work and he’s into filmmaking and we wish that, somehow, we’re told how they end up as heterosexual bosom friends without a hint of romance.The depth of close friendship they have achieved between a man and a woman is quite rare. Maja also has a gay best friend, Jason Ty (Dominic Roco), who knows she’s been so in love with Paulo for so long.
A few days before graduation, they’re both at the crossroads. They both had extended stays in college
and the future seems vague. They know they both have to grow up, be more mature and responsible with their lives. Maja doesn’t know exactly what she’d do after getting a diploma. And it’s suddenly revealed that Paulo wants to go to law school. They both can’t decide if they’d join their school’s graduation rites or skip it. Then, in this period of uncertainty, Paulo suddenly asks Maja to accompany him to a music festival in La Union, and Dominic tags along.
The film doesn’t really have much of a convoluted story. During their stay in La Union, Paulo meets his ex-girlfriend anew, Pathy (Jasmine Curtis Smith), and Dominic falls in love with an African American boy who entices him to be part of a threesome, and he agrees. And it is also here where Maja finally gets the guts to tell Paulo how she has honestly been feeling about him all along. And that’s it.
This kind of unconventional love story, which has no melodramatic twists and turns, is actually difficult to do, especially for local audiences who have come to prefer mushy plot developments in the movies they watch. Dan Villegas has also done it with similar success in “Always Be My Maybe”, and Antoinette Jadaone in “That Thing Called Tadhana”. You might feel that nothing much is happening but actually, the angst, the tension is building up and you know it’s heading somewhere.
Here, a lot of time is spent on talking and drinking and hanging out... and more drinking. And it all holds because it is very well acted. And the kind of acting is “no acting, please.” Everyone is just so relaxed, so natural, especially Maja.
Maja is exceptionally good in this film. She totally inhabits her character. There are long “tuhog” scenes, particularly the one with Dominic where she recounts the foolish things she did in the seven years that she’s been secretly in love with Paulo, where she is so deliciously consistent. There are scenes where you want to reach out and hug her for she succeeds in making us actually feel her pain, like the scene where, after she reveals her feelings for Paulo, he kisses her but she pushes him away because she is aware that he’s just trying to console her and he’s not really in love with her anyway.
And her very meaningful smile in the end when she says “graduate na ako” is just so priceless, signifying her realization that she has moved on from loving someone who doesn’t love her back, that she has grown, she has come of age and now, she just has to move on to the next chapter of her life. We know she has won an acting award for “Thelma”, but her performance here is definitely much more affecting than anything she has done before.
JP Habac is surely a young filmmaker to watch who knows how to use subtlety in the simplest of ways. For instance, when Maja meets Jasmine Curtis Smith, she learns that the name of her rival is Pathy and she makes fun of the letter H, conveying the jealousy and insecurity she feels at the moment. Habac also films his scenes with daringly adventurous camera angles and craftily uses a lot of contemporary local songs to underline the feelings that characters go through in some scenes. For young viewers, they will find many scenes and many emo songs very relatable. For the older ones, it will bring back memories of the times when you were younger, foolish, and reckless in love.