MANILA – “She’s Dating the Gangster,” the latest film of teen stars Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, is not only doing well at the box office as critics have also given it generally positive reviews.
Over the weekend, Star Cinema reported that the film adaptation of the popular book by Bianca Bernardino has breached the P100-million mark less than a week since its release.
In "She's Dating the Gangster," Padilla plays the role of Kenji, a "gangster" who attempts to win back his former girlfriend by entering a pretend relationship with Bernardo's character, Athena.
The film is directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina, whose previous films include successful romantic comedies like “It Takes a Man and a Woman” and “My Amnesia Girl.”
Apart from the fans, several critics also had positive comments about the latest “KathNiel” team-up.
Philbert Dy, who gave the movie 3.5 stars, praised the movie for its “expert direction,” noting that it “works best as youthful little love story.”
“The narrative dutifully builds up these characters as romantic ideals, playing out a love so simple and pure that it's easy to get swept up in all of it,” he wrote in the website Click the City.
“Its portrayal of young, intensely romantic love is really charming, especially placed as it is in this wacky conception of its period setting,” Dy added, noting that “Daniel Padilla's strengths are used to great effect here, and Kathryn Bernardo manages to shine yet again.”
Entertainment website Pep.ph also praised the film’s teen stars.
“The movie cements the status of the Kathryn Bernardo-Daniel Padilla pairing as a love team to reckon with,” it said. “The chemistry between Daniel and Kathryn is amazing.”
Pep.ph also approved of the changes made by the filmmakers to the original book, which had a sadder ending. “SDTG director Cathy Garcia-Molina and screenwriter Carmi Raymundo deviated from the tragic end of the novel to make it more palatable to the general audience—and perhaps more profitable for Star Cinema. Direk Cathy’s diversion from the darkness of the novelette did enable the movie to deliver its fair share of kilig moments and romantic clichés expected from a romantic movie as love blooms between Athena and Kenji,” it said.
Lifestyle website Spot.ph, similarly, agreed with the changes made in the screen translation.
Giving it three stars out of five, the review said: “Cathy Garcia Molina took a lot of liberties with the material, omitting details that would turn this film into just another tragic teen love story. Fans of the best-selling novel might find the changes a little too much, but the improvements to the plot help make the film quite palatable.”
The Philippine Daily Inquirer, for its part, noted that the movie “makes wise of Daniel and Kathryn’s growing confidence as actors—thanks to director Cathy Garcia-Molina, who coaxes credible characterizations that require them to move farther away from their comfort zones.”
The newspaper’s Rito P. Asilo also cited the other actors in the movie. “The production’s supporting players manage to shine on their own, despite limited screen time—most notably, the sublime Rio Locsin (who is award-worthy as Abigail’s distraught mother), the dashing Ian Veneracion and the breathtaking Zulueta,” Asilo wrote.
“When these screen veterans seize the spotlight, you understand why they deserve to be emulated by the hot, young actors they support!”
Critic Oggs Cruz of the website Twitch said the movie is “more than just your average Filipino rom-com.”
“Garcia-Molina, thankfully, has more adventurism than most of her peers who would have gone the route of simply filming the novel as is,” Cruz wrote. “Garcia-Molina's adaptation, which innovates to cover the obvious derivativeness of Bernardino's text, is simply put, offers a stark improvement over the original material.”
“The film adaptation of She's Dating the Gangster is a series of risks taken that paid off quite well,” he added.