Let’s get this out of the way first: I haven’t read the book. I’m basing all my opinion in this post on what I’ve seen in the movie.
I dragged my partner to Glorietta Saturday night to watch the movie. He came willingly, but given the choice, he wouldn’t watch it. He’s still traumatized by “My Kontrabida Girl,” and I don’t blame him. That movie was sooo bad.
“She’s Dating the Gangster” is based on the best-selling book by Bianca Bernardino. The synopsis, accoding to Star Cinema, “It all started when 17-year-old Athena Dizon (Kathryn Bernardo) unwittingly plays a trick on resident heartthrob and bad boy, Kenji de los Reyes (Daniel Padilla). All of a sudden, she finds herself pretending—unwillingly at that—to be his girlfriend to make his ex jealous. Now, not only does she have to deal with dirty looks from the girls in school who want Kenji for themselves, but her supposed boyfriend is getting on her nerves. He’s hotheaded, never seems to agree with her on anything—and everything about him screams gangster. Has Athena gotten herself into more trouble than she can handle? Or has she actually found herself a boy she can call hers—gangster be damned?”
That is the first storyline. The second storyline can be summed up as the story of Kelay (Kathryn Bernardo) looking for Kenji de los Reyes, father of Kenneth (Daniel Padilla) after the plane he’s on crashed in Bicol, to fulfill her promise to her aunt, Athena. Kelay and Kenneth’s love story began and flourished while travelling from Manila all the way to Bicol. And it is during this trip that Kenneth founds out the real story of his father’s less-than-ideal love story.
Anyway, I heard mixed reviews about the movie even before I watched it. Fans of the book are not so happy that the movie did not stick the original storyline. Director Cathy Garcia-Molina explained in her interview on Aquino&Abunda Tonight that the movie is just based on the book, not a direct adaptation. And she admitted that she changed the storyline to cater to a wider audience for better box office results. And if we believe the current figures floating around (because let’s be honest, those numbers are not really that accurate), the movie breached its PhP100 million mark after just 4 days of being shown in cinemas.
The very first thing you’ll notice about the film is how good the color is. And Direk Cathy kept it consistent the whole movie. She also used colors (together with the fashion style) to differentiate the two storylines. The 90s story line were represented with more colorful and loud as seen in their clothes and setting, the use of beepers/pagers and the Eraserheads background music.
I just kept wondering what year the “present” storyline took place. Because while the present characters of Kathryn and Daniel are probably 18/19 year-olds, their 90s characters aged waaaaaay more than that. But I guess it’s more of a casting compromise more than anything. They wanted to use a love team that worked before.
And speaking of casting, Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo were the perfect choices to lead the movie. Not because they suited the characters well (again, I wouldn’t know since I haven’t read the book), but because they are the only loveteam now that can cause simultaneous shrieks and kilig inside the cinema. And that’s what the movie is all about: Two teenage love affairs — one ridden with bad timing and the other one occured at the right place and the right time. The movie does not pretend to be something more than that.
This is the first movie of Kathryn and Daniel that I’ve watched and one thing’s for sure — Daniel sure can make hearts swoon. And Kathryn can act, be it comedy, drama, or one of those kilig moments. Can this pair be any more perfect (Confession: I’m Kathniel fan. I haven’t watched their other movies nor finished any of their TV series, but I consider myself a fan)?
The movie managed to add someting more to the story though that while formulaic, is still very effective for a Star Cinema movie. They managed to add story to the families and show relationships between parents and children. This angle provided the dramatic moments of the film.
While there were cliches that worked, the movie was filled with too much cliches that I couldn’t help but think, “that’s way too convenient,” and “if you have decided otherwise, you wouldn’t have that problem in the first hand. Anobeh?”
But I understand, this is a Filipino romantic movie — and more importantly, a Star Cinema movie. So I understood.
Considering all things in the movie, the positives outweighed the negatives. Simple, relatable storyline (albeit the cliches), charming cast (Kathniel fan here!) and good visuals make “She’s Dating the Gangster” an enjoyable kilig treat! I loved it! Or borrowing Kenji’s words: I can’t breathe “She’s Dating the Gangster!”
All photos from Star Cinema