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14 October 2019

Bonus Movie Review: Hello, Love, Goodbye (2019)

I'm quite late in the game but I finally got to watch Hello, Love, Goodbye.


The setting, Hong Kong, is a place close to my heart. My father worked there for a couple of years. It was the first place my family (and my son too!) visited out of the country. I celebrated my 18th birthday there. And my father celebrated his 70th there too. The place brings a lot of happy memories.


The setting is also relevant these days with the mounting protests the residents have against China.


But a setting is never enough to win me over. I've been on K drama marathons the past few months. And I was honestly skeptical if I would enjoy a Filipino film. I watched Sid and Aya the other night and I was disappointed. Anne Curtis was okay but Dingdong Dantes was meh. I've always found him one-dimensional with his astig/stiff/tuod acting. The story was different and quite interesting but I was so bothered by Dingdong's acting. So I watched Hello, Love, Goodbye with some hesitation.


But I'm glad I gave it a chance. It was definitely worth the 2 hours spent watching it and all the tears I shed. :D



The story revolves around Joy Fabregas (Kathryn Bernardo), a Filipina domestic helper in Hong Kong. Only four months are left of her 2-year contract and she was working towards moving to Canada. She's a nurse and her desire to pursue her degree was one reason why she wanted to transfer. She also wanted to bring her family with her. 


Joy needed a part-time job to augment her income as a DH because she had to pay for her Canadian visa. She  worked illegally at a restaurant where she met Ethan (Alden Richards). Ethan is a bartender at the restaurant. He lives in Hong Kong with his dad and brother. He was supposed to have gained Hong Kong residency already but he left and went to the US to pursue a girl he loved. They broke up and he had to go back to zero in Hong Kong. Ethan is your typical babaero.


As the story progresses, Ethan and Joy slowly fall in love with each other. Joy was hesitant to get into a relationship because she only had four months left in Hong Kong. But she gave in eventually which led to a complicated love story.



The story was familiar yet different. I've watched a number of Cathy Garcia Molina films so I'm quite familiar with her style. I'm glad she ditched the hideous wigs for this film. The film's different because of how it juxtaposed social relevance with your typical love story line. There was less of the cutesy stuff and the shallow lovers quarrels. The story tried its best to stick to reality and show the painful side of life and love. Even the ugly and cramped side of Hong Kong was shown in the movie.


I loved how the OFW life was accurately shown on the film. I've personally witnessed and joined the DH's Sunday gatherings in Central. It's our kababayans way of overcoming their homesickness. They play loud music, they dance, bring Pinoy food, make chismis, etc. I'm glad Hong Kong allows them to have their own safe space on Sundays.


I didn't know that some of these OFWs have to do rakets on the side illegally to augment their income. Joy's character had to sell powerbanks. She and her friends had to come up with creative ways of passing on the merchandise to their customers to avoid being caught (one sample was greeting the customer happy birthday).


I'm also glad that the movie showed the two kinds of OFWs. Those who choose to stay there despite the hardships. And those who are brave enough to admit that it's not for them. When people leave to work abroad, society would often think that there's no turning back for these people. Some of these OFWs would rather endure the pain (physical, emotional, etc.) than go back home and embarrassingly face their judgmental families and neighbors. But sometimes, it's not really just for you. And there should be no shame in admitting that you made a wrong choice. This part of the story may seem insignificant (done through Joy's cousin, Mary Dale, portrayed by Maymay Entrata), but it made an impact on me because I believe this could empower OFWs who feel trapped.


And of course, the focal point of the story was about making choices, no matter how difficult they may be. Joy said, ang choice para lang sa mayaman. And she is partly correct. But I'm glad that despite that pronouncement, she was able to show that we all have choices. Maybe they are not the glamorous options we wanted to have. But we always have a choice. And while it's admirable to always choose love and your family and to be selfless, sometimes you just have to choose yourself. Joy's friend, portrayed by Kakai Bautista, said it perfectly. Ang babae pag binigay lahat, tanga. Pag pinili ang sarili, masama. It's the constant dilemma that women face. People often resent us when we choose to do what we want to do. Ethan started out that way. He did not want Joy to leave and he did all he could to make her stay. Joy's family was the same. Her dad didn't want to go to Canada and wanted to go to Hong Kong instead with the false hope that his wife would return to him. And through all the confusion, nobody bothered asking Joy what she really wanted. Sure, it's easier and less complicated to impose and be dictatorial. But we should all be given the right to choose what we want. Paano kung mali? Eh di, mali. At least we tried. I'm sure we'll learn. And we will not live with what ifs. So yes, ang magagandang choices, para lang sa mayaman. But even mere mortals like us are entitled to our own choices too.



One other take away I had from the film was about love being about taking whatever the other person can give, no matter how small or short. Four months is indeed a short time to be with someone. But as they say, quality still matters over quantity. You may be with someone forever but not really get all the love you deserve. But you may be with someone for as short as a month but still get the most out of it. Oo, unfair to be given little love. But if you truly love someone, you'll be willing to take it - kahit may kasamang pain and even letting go in the end. So yes, sometimes, we just need to learn to count our blessings. Take whatever the other person can give. And hope that maybe he/she will be willing to give more later on.  


The story was superb and the cast was perfect. I've always known that Alden's a good actor. I've been following him since his AlDub days in Eat Bulaga. Aside from his obvious good looks, I've always admired how he takes his craft seriously. I know some people hate him for not falling in love with Maine. But that's precisely why I like him. He's not bothered by the showbiz noise. Never swayed by the love team stuff. Basta siya, trabaho lang. I've never seen any of his soaps or movies before but I have to say that he really showed versatile acting in this film. He made me giddy when he was pursuing Joy. He made me laugh with his creative ways of cheering up Joy. And I felt his pain when his brother was berating him for his wrong choices and when he wanted Joy to stay. Totoo ang chismis, he can be the next John Lloyd, albeit a more grounded one. I look forward to seeing him in more quality films in the future. Ang kulang na lang siguro sa John Lloyd test is if he can pull off a rich kid character the way JL did in his movies with Sarah Geronimo.

The supporting cast were also wonderful. Kakai, Maymay, and Lovely Abella played the roles of Joy's friends. They were amusing without being slapstick. Ethan's friends were great as well, lalo na si Joross Gamboa na suking friend yata sa Cathy Garcia Molina films. They all delivered and made the film more interesting. Even the Chinese actresses were good. Hindi OA or kulang. Tama lang.

And Kathryn Bernardo. Confession: I never wanted to watch her because I'm not really fond of Daniel Padilla. Sure, I've always found her pretty, Mara Clara days palang. But I have zero idea about her acting prior to this film. And I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Had this been a KathNiel film, I would not have watched it. But because it was Alden, I did. And buti na lang because I discovered what a great actress Kathryn is. I've read about the unorthodox ways that Cathy Garcia Molina did to prepare Kathryn for this role. And maybe it did play a part in how she portrayed the role of Joy. But I'm sure her talent played a big part as well. She was so believable as Joy. I felt her pain whenever she's confronted with her family's woes. I felt her fear in falling for Ethan knowing that she only had a few months left in Hong Kong. I admired her drive in making both ends meet to provide for her family and to have enough to go to Canada. And I really felt her dilemma when she had to choose between staying in Hong Kong and moving to Canada. I was rooting for her. And I was so proud of her for choosing herself and her happiness. I am now a Kathryn fan. May room for improvement pa for her sometimes shrilly voice but acting-wise, okay na ko. I think she might even be a better actress than Liza Soberano, whom I adore.


I was half hoping that there would be some sort of epilogue like in One More Chance which showed Popoy getting back together with Basha. I wanted to see Joy come back from Canada to find a very successful Ethan managing his own bar. But in a way, I'm also glad that that didn't happen. It added to the story's familiar but different charm and mystery. Maybe we can save that for a sequel? :D


I'm glad that this film proved to us that at the end of the day, it's the material and the actors' talents that matter. Hindi yung love team. Kahit gaano pa kacute at nakakakilig ang real and/or reel love team, if the material is not good and the actors are not talented at all, then it will just be a waste of everybody's time. So thanks to this film, my faith in Filipino love story movies is restored. :)


Noona says...it's a 4.5. 

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