Netflix review: Janine Gutierrez, Pepe Herrera charm in 'Ikaw'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Jan 28 2022 02:23 PM

Janine Gutierrez and Pepe Herrera in 'Ikaw'
Janine Gutierrez and Pepe Herrera in 'Ikaw'

Manila-based real estate agent Dee (Janine Gutierrez) went home to her hometown in Bulusan, Sorsogon to visit her Lola for her 80th birthday. When she went to purchase some coconuts, she met her high school batchmate Edong (Pepe Herrera), who ran a coconut farm he inherited from his late parents. Edong was smitten by the pretty Dee, but she was preoccupied with her job in Manila and her lola's health to pay him any attention.

Among the young actresses we have now, Janine Gutierrez stands out not only because of her patrician beauty and effortless elegance, but also her natural excellence in acting. She has been consistently been likable and sympathetic in all the movies I've seen her in. Here, she was in her element as an urban yuppie who could not fit into country living that well. The unexpected melodrama in the third act challenged her dramatic skills. 

Pepe Herrera went from stage success in "Rak of Aegis" to movie comedian (in films like "Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap" and most recently "Sanggano, Sanggwapo, Sanggago 2"). Despite his unconventional looks, he had also been been cast as an unlikely romantic leading man, in films like "Sakaling Hindi Makarating" (2016) with Alessandra de Rossi, "The Hopeful Romantic" (2018) with Rita Azul, and now this one. 

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The supporting cast is composed of comedy veterans like Pilita Corrales (as Dee's Lola Dulce), Vangie Labalan (as Dee's Tita Carmen) and Archie Alemania (as Edong's best friend Manny. This is director Marla Ancheta's second feature film after "Finding Agnes" last year. Like its nondescript title, the material of "Ikaw" was not as substantive or as original as "Agnes." Ancheta had to do heavy-duty stretching to fluff out the simple story here.

This was an awkward love story between a Manila girl and a country bumpkin, a tale which had been told countless times since movies began. This very basic story here was only distinguished by the earnest charm and performances of the lead actors Gutierrez and Herrera. To be completely honest, the romantic chemistry between the two was rather iffy, it took all the stars' goodwill to convince us that this fairy tale could somehow happen. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, “Fred Said.”