During their college days, closeted gay guy Tom Amorado (Jameson Blake) had a big crush on his jock friend Kendrick Villaverde (Joao Constancia), but never had the guts to tell him what he really felt for fear of losing their friendship. One day, Kendrick suddenly had to leave the country to migrate to Hawaii and lost all contact. Tom was left to move on with his life and would later work as a freelance accountant after graduation.
Five years later, Tom and Kendrick rekindled their friendship via Facebook. However, their interactions were limited to online video calls because of the ongoing pandemic. Kendrick was back in the country and was volunteering as an errand boy for senior citizens in his community. One day, COVID-19 hit very close to home and became a serious mortal threat. Can Tom now finally tell Kendrick about the love he really felt for him?
The BL (boys' love) romance subgenre began as yaoi manga in Japan which was about a romantic relationship between two boys, one masculine and one feminine, written for a female audience. This theme was later picked up by Thailand writers for their own BL books which later became mainstream enough to be produced as television series.
Because of the immense popularity of Thai series "2gether the Series" earlier this year, Filipino filmmakers had been churning out one BL series after the other during this pandemic lockdown, starting with Ivan Andrew Payawal's "Gameboys" series (starring Kokoy de Santos and Urian best actor Elijah Canlas) which came out on YouTube in May, followed by Petersen Vargas' "Hello Stranger" (starring Troy Labrusca and JC Alcantara) in June.
Bobby Bonifacio, Jr. wrote and directed this Star Cinema feature film which further capitalized on this ongoing BL trend. "My Lockdown Romance" followed the usual formula for BL produced during the lockdown, two attractive guys who kindle a close online friendship, chatting away on Zoom while quarantined in their homes which would later bloom into something more (or maybe not). Their video calls would be chockful of "kilig" moments to delight their target audiences.
Both leads were matinee idols who came from popular television reality series. Blake started his career on "Pinoy Big Brother: Teen Edition" in 2015 which later led to being a member of the Hashtags dance group. Joao Constancia was among the winners of "Pinoy Boyband Superstar" in 2016. Blake had already proven himself as a dramatic actor with an acclaimed performance in Chito Rono's "Signal Rock" (2018).
Another usual character in a BL series also present here is a female best friend of one of the guys for him to vent his frustrations about his ongoing online relationship. Here it was Gab Pangilinan, the current it-girl of Philippine theater following her heart-breaking performance as Joy in the 2019 restaging of "Ang Huling El Bimbo," in her first major film role. She played Gad Cervantes, a girl who had a crush on Tom in college, but accepted her friendzone fate when she learned about Tom's feelings for Kendrick.
Blake's unexpected casting and subtly nuanced performance as Tom was the highlight here. However, because of the rather serious approach by the director within its 90 minute run time, the chemistry and thrill factor between him and Constancia did not feel as potent nor as cheerful as the couples in "Gameboys" and "Hello Stranger."
While it told an engaging story with likable characters, being released almost six months after the BL trend exploded on the local scene made it a bit difficult for it to come up with anything substantially original anymore.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."