The movie This Time: Love sparked by a Summer Fling

I can’t figure her out.” – Coby, referring to Ava’s change in behavior

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Just like a woman who does not know what she wants, the movie This Time seems to lack conviction in its choice of focus.

First it was about lack of time (summer lang sila nagkikita), then about relationship label (special friends lang daw… ano ba sila?), then about distance (mahirap kapag hanggang Skype/pm pm lang), then about a third-party with a different agenda (pero sa dami ba naman ng lalaki, yun pa…it was film’s easy way out of the conflict), then back to distance again (they overcame this the first time, why this cropped up again?).

The movie seemed to rely mostly on the on-screen chemistry of real-life sweethearts James Reid (Coby) and Nadine Lustre (Ava) that it forgot to polish its storyline. Maybe the film thinks that the fans will buy it as long as the two ended (predictably) together in the movie. All’s well that ends well, right?

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Their on-screen romance has become real.

But something is really amiss with the movie.

Surely the film has all the ingredients to turn it into a blockbuster: a proven loveteam; a quirky family (Al Tantay, Candy Pangilinan, Yam Concepcion) that provides the occasional comic relief; a parallel love story that provides diversion (Freddie Webb and Nova Villa); a gang of supportive friends with one being gay (Donnalyn Bartolome, Issa Pressman, and Ronnie Lazaro) that spoonfeeds the audience with key information; and a good-looking rich third-party that provides the excuse for the loveteam to be angry at each other.

But the film lacked depth. It lacked direction. It lacked the requisite character development that made the attraction between Coby and Ava looked rushed and artificial. The sparkle in the loveteam’s eyes during their sweet moments are not those of Coby and Ava, but of James and Nadine.

The film tried to do many things all the once while trying to accommodate the movie’s (and the loveteam’s) main commercial sponsor. Coby and Ava’s love story started in an ice cream store and was witnessed blossoming by an ambulant ice cream vendor who does not seem to age over time.

Maybe the film crew were hard-pressed to deliver the film while there’s still the effect of the loveteam’s hit series On The Wings Of Love and while its target audience are still on their summer breaks.

For die-hard JaDine and OTWOL fans, the film could pass as entertaining enough to spend a quarter of a thousand pesos to watch it on the big screen. In fact, it could be one of the highlights of a student’s summer vacation, especially as the film tried to connect with its audience on the onset by positioning Coby and Ava’s relationship as a product of numerous summer vacations.

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But for others who have grown to like the JaDine loveteam only because of their OTWOL performance, it is advisable to lower the expectations. Clark and Leah is different from Coby and Ava, and the people working behind them. Once we got that out of our way, the film can appear good enough to make us believe in the longevity of young love (Reid and Lustre) and possibility of forever (Webb and Villa).

And by the way, it is said that This Time was graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board.

Maybe the film is indeed a good movie for others.

But just like Coby’s thought about Ava while they’re in the backseat on the way to look for Coby’s grandfather’s long-lost love in Japan: I just can’t figure her out why.

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