So, the things I found wrong with it:
Alessandra de Rossi is good, but she seems too old for the youngish guy in the Marinduque scenes, and in addition to that, an absolute cold blooded B in the way she left him after he and his sister extended so much hospitality to her. Sure we’re supposed to feel empathy towards a woman desperate to resolve the mysterious postcards she’s been getting, but when there was apparently no scene of her giving the guy an explanation or even a goodbye I felt sorry for the him.
About those postcards, it took up to the start of the second act for me to realize those cards were mysterious at all. I thought they were still from her ex but it wasn’t made clear it wasn’t until way into the movie. Which is a pity because the plot was fairly rich. It wouldn’t have taken a sentence or two to establish this, perhaps by declaring this before she went on her trip.
There are other niggling things, such as why didn’t she just offer money to live in the Marinduque siblings house instead of cooking them breakfast (??), which she seems not to have done anyway, and after the movie establishing earlier that she had money saved up. Why was she driving home on a motorcycle in the end? Whose was it, and why not just take the bus like you did earlier?
How could she give away such an expensive phone to a stranger? In what world do you call those ‘swimming lessons’? I know these things seem minor and in fact you can normally forgive them if the movie does everything else well. But if they are too many they add up and it starts distracting you, taking you away from what would have otherwise been a good experience.
What I Liked
Paul (Pepe Herrera)’s character is funny, subtle, believable and fills his scenes well. I particularly liked the way he became so much more formal when a co teacher was expressing the hots for him, continuing to be polite while personifying the ‘couldn’t be less interested, please go away‘ stance. Even his drunk scenes were win and reminded me of similar episodes in my life. Herrera played That Guy you’d want to hang out with and he is a major plus for the movie.
The scenes of course, take your breath away, and remind you that while the Philippines is small it is so goddam diverse and radiant even the smallest sleepiest towns will take your breath away.
But surrounding scenery, the occasional good acting, and an actual good, interesting premise is one thing. The actual story telling also needs to be ironed out. Why someone doesn’t go through it with a fine tooth comb, crossing the Ts, dotting the Is, rectifying plot holes, is beyond me. Nothing a viewing by 3rd parties wouldn’t easily catch and fix.