Movie review: Bela Padilla emerges as a cinematic triple threat in '366'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Apr 18 2022 12:42 PM

Zanjoe Marudo and Bela Padilla in '366'
Zanjoe Marudo and Bela Padilla in '366'

June (Bela Padilla) and her boyfriend Pao (JC Santos) were traveling in Istanbul, together for the first time after several years of being apart in a long-distance relationship after he migrated to the US. One night, June wanted something to eat so Pao drove out to buy food for them. When June woke up the next morning, she found out that Pao was in a fatal car accident and realized she was going to have to face the future by herself. 

Their mutual friend, June's next-door neighbor, chef Marco (Zanjoe Marudo), had been their loyal go-between, helping Pao and June with various small favors. After Pao's death, Marco challenged the depressed June to break out from her grief and move on with life, heal and forget, giving her 365 days to do so. To help her do this, Marco graciously agreed to do the various things Pao and June never ever got to do together. 

Bela Padilla is one of the best young actresses around these days, consistently giving her audiences characters they can easily identify with and connect with. In two of these films, "10,000 Tula Para Kay Stella" (Jason Paul Laxamana, 2017) and "Vodka, Beers and Regrets" (Irene Villamor, 2020), Padilla was paired with JC Santos. Even if Santos was only in a few scenes here in "366," we clearly see their onscreen chemistry again. 

Padilla had also spread her wings to writing screenplays, and she had also been recognized for her excellence in this aspect of moviemaking as well. Her first screenplay was "Last Night" (Joyce Bernal, 2017, which told the story of two depressed people (Piolo Pascual and Toni Gonzaga) who met while planning to commit suicide in adjoining hotel rooms. Death and romance also play major parts in this latest work of hers.

To complete her transition into a cinematic triple-threat, Padilla also makes her debut as a feature film director with this film. Her vision was very artistic and poetic, and, with the help of cinematographer Pao Orendain, she was able to execute some memorable scenes. The most remarkable one for me was that with the camera rotating around a static June in the foreground while the blurred background was moving in blurred fast-forward behind her. 

As the film was about someone who cannot move on from a major loss, it was inevitable that its pace was also very slow to burn. Scenes do get to feel repetitive and melodramatic as they spun around June's inability to forgive herself. 

This gloomy situation was saved by the sincere performances of Padilla (that breakdown scene after the mobile phone mishap was intense) and Marudo (who played a character too good to be true, yet still felt real). 

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