MANILA, Philippines -- The first big screen outing of Coco Martin and Julia Montes as a "love team" proves that their tandem can easily cross over from heavy drama to light romance.
(This review is spoiler-free.)
Directed by Emmanuel Quindo Palo ("Sta. Niña"), "A Moment In Time" tells the story of an arts student Jillian (Montes) whose chance encounter with struggling painter Patrick (Martin) on a train leads to romance. Their relationship is put to the test, however, when secrets and burdens from their past surface.
The Valentine offering of Star Cinema is Montes and Martin's first movie project together after last year's top-rating series "Walang Hanggan."
At the premiere night held Tuesday at SM Megamall in Ortigas, fans of the tandem trooped to the cinema with large banners and unmatched enthusiasm in welcoming their idols' first film together.
The first scenes of the movie evidently (rather, audibly) became a source of delight for the audience.
Jillian is similar in demeanor to Katerina in "Walang Hanggan," while Patrick shares the "jologs" and fun-loving ways of Juan dela Cruz.
But in tandem, these characters are easily a hit, especially in the refreshing "kilig" situations. This was evident among the shrieking fans present at the premiere screening.
Martin as the confident and persistent suitor and Montes as the shy, no-boyfriend-since-birth school girl provided numerous scenes that had the audience cheering. As if in a concert, Patrick's song-and-dance number to woo Jillian even had some delighted fans off their seats.
But followers of the "love team" are advised to relish the first 30 minutes of "A Moment In Time," as the light-hearted scenes between Martin and Montes, as in "Walang Hanggan," prove short-lived here as well.
The reveal of a "twist" in the story marks a sharp turning point in the film -- from its tone, the settings' atmosphere, to a character's decidedly glum choice of clothing.
It is here where Martin shines as an actor. Despite what appear to be dreamy and romantic situations, the actor's nuances raise doubt as to Patrick's real feelings given his seemingly strengthening bond with Jillian.
Thanks to smart choices in the musical score, even a montage of "kilig" moments between the principal characters will have viewers second-guessing their motivation.
In fact, Patrick's actions in the film's second act runs the risk of making Martin -- who is now billed as his generation's "Prince of TV and Philippine Cinemas" -- unlikable, but his character's story is ultimately that of regret and redemption.
One would expect the apparent rich girl-poor boy situation to figure as a bigger problem in the film -- indeed, it was touched upon -- but it never becomes the defining conflict among the characters.
However, the central conflict, despite the gravity with which it was presented, feels conveniently resolved. The third-act introduction of a new character, whose "sacrifice" is played up to be instrumental to the resolution, feels inconsequential. Two other characters' change of heart, likewise, feels thinly motivated.
Not to be lost amid the "kilig" and drama, however, are the scenic settings shown in the film. Credit goes to the film's cinematography for making familiar places in Metro Manila -- a Light Rail Transit (LRT) station, the Quezon Memorial Circle, among others -- look picturesque. Of course, the scenes shot in Amsterdam and other European locations are easily breathtaking.
Out in theaters nationwide starting Wednesday, “A Moment In Time” also stars Cherie Gil, Gabby Concepcion, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Ella Cruz and former "Pinoy Big Brother" housemates Joj and Jai Agpangan.