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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Love at its most bittersweet

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“What is love? Is there really such a thing? Is love selfish, just a need to be fulfilled? Or is it someone that fulfills your needs…” 

These lines from a commercial from an FM radio fills my head after watching Joel Ruiz’s Kung Paano Siya Nawala, a slow-burning kind of love story that hits you bulls eye, like an arrow that pierces your chest and targets your achy breaky heart.

It’s a modern tale that centers on the characters of JM de Guzman (Lio) suffers from face blindness (I didn’t know there is such a condition), which prevents him from recognizing faces. He might order coffee from you, make out with you, even have a one night stand, but when tomorrow comes, he does not remember who you are.  

Love at its most bittersweet
JM de Guzman and Rhian Ramos in a scene from 'Kung Paano Siya Nawala.'

His reality is faced head-on by Rhian Ramos’ Shana, the one woman he might be falling in love with, or not. 

Face blindness is an affliction that is rarely highlighted in our Pinoy films. Amnesia is so lame already that is why this condition of Lio seems fresh, unchartered territory. Well, do not expect scenes with a doctor or medical bulletins explaining why JM’s character has it.

What is interesting is the film show how he copes with it—by being brooding, almost some kind of a loner, with eyes filled with melancholia, longing for that special bond, a more intimate connection with another human being, not his usual wham bam, thank you miss nocturnal conquests.  

With the arrival of Shana in his life, Lio must do his darnest best to remember Shana, her looks, laughter, scent even, her peculiarities like the manner she knots the ends of her hair, the insouciance and that lethal combination of one day she’s happy, confident, on the top of the world, and the next she’s vulnerable, afraid of judgment and being left with nothing but memories of people she encountered in her dizzying life. 

The unraveling of opposites who are truly, deeply, madly attracted to each other and eventually falling in love, this is what you will witness in this contemporary romantic drama.

From their initial meetings and when they finally connect, one gets to understand why these two lost souls are meant to be, and yes, the romance is not superficial, the love is potent and for real.

Another noteworthy ingredient of this film, it feels like Lio, Shana, Lio’s family are like people you know, they are neighbors who have become family. Most of the times, the scenes that flash on the screen seem so familiar, you might have been there, you might have done that, you are so drawn to the lives and situations of the characters because there is no over the top melodrama, no moments that feels fake. 

Everything about Lio and Shana seems authentic—when they converse, when they argue, when they kiss and make love, when they make promises, when they look at each other, when they reveal little things about themselves. It is not laced with sugar and spice and all that is nice. 

The biggest draw of the film of course is the performance of JM and Rhian. I have never seen them so handsomely and beautifully captured on screen. As a couple who have their own strengths and weaknesses. Their portrayal answers the question of what love is, that true love is selfless, honest to the point it hurts but you love the person anyway, his or her imperfection makes him or her, perfect. 

As Lio and Shana, you root for them, you want to hug them, and you want them to become your friends forever. You want them to have their happily ever after. 

Kung Paano Siya Nawala shows to everyone, that love is not a need to be fulfilled. It gives a truthful depiction of the lovers and not just the love and romance. Love is indeed more than kisses; it is not a prince who sweeps us off our feet. It is not even a damsel waiting to be saved. It is two people committed to make it work despite of the many differences and grey areas that lovers possess. 

The hopeless romantics will definitely have a field day with this motion picture and the most cynical, they might have a change of heart and open themselves to the possibilities of romance, with all its trapping and the possibility of pain. Well, we all know all relationships have the capacity to hurt us anyway.

Kung Paano Siya Nawala emphasizes the fact that in life, how we make a person is what remains with them. Memories do fade. But the heart always remembers.


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