Black Sheep Coming-of-age Romance Romcom

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Between Maybes’ (2019)

The first on-screen team up of Gerald Anderson and Julia Barretto delivers a refreshing rom-com experience. Here’s my review of Jason Paul Laxamana’s ‘Between Maybes’.

The film tackles the story of Hazel Ilagan (Julia Barretto), a former child star struggling to get roles now that she’s grown older. As she slowly gets fed up with trying to ressurect her showbiz career, she goes on an impromptu trip and escapes to Saga, a quiet and secluded town in Japan. There, she finds fellow Pinoy, fisherman Louie Puyat (Gerald Anderson), who reluctantly agrees to accompany her throughout her trip, and along the way, they both learn more about themselves and about each other, what they could’ve been, and whatever they could be.

Of all the films of Jason Paul Laxamana, this might actually be my most favorite. The story he tells here is masterfully weaved, and is beautifully captured against the stunning, peacefully quiet backdrop of Saga in Japan. He uses the setting not just for its visually stunning sceneries, but he let’s the place tell the story as well.

The “quiet” vibe of the setting permeates throughout the film, giving us a refreshing experience both visually and thematically, letting the stories of both Hazel and Louie make the noise amidst all the quietness. Unlike other films that are shot abroad, Laxamana made Saga more than just a shooting location, it was an integral part of the story.

I see this more as a coming-of-age film rather than a straight up romcom, with both Hazel and Louie realizing that they have to come into terms with the realities of their own lives, breaking away from the escape that they’ve both gotten in finding each other. It isn’t hard for the audience to connect with these two, as they open themselves up for the film, delivering effective, affecting, and relatable performances throughout the film.

I think I’ve seen all the films of Julia Barretto, but this is the one where I liked her the most. Barretto creates a character that isn’t one-dimensional, allowing us to relate and root for her character rather than to be annoyed and hate her completely.

Her character, Hazel Ilagan, stems a lot from Barretto’s experiences in the real world and the people’s misconception of her as a shallow, bratty actress, which makes her performance all the more genuine. This is undoubtedly one of Julia Barretto’s best performances yet.

We’ve all seen how capable Gerald Anderson is when it comes to acting, and nothing’s changed here. I feel like we’ve seen this performance from Anderson before, the quiet yet charming, brooding male lead. It would’ve been nice to see a bit more range from him, but for what the film asks him to do, he does a really great job.

When it comes to their chemistry as a romantic pair, it’s definitely there. It was quite unexpected, but they definitely have rapport together, and I actually found my self smiling at the pair’s antics once in a while. Disregarding their glaring age difference, they’re a pretty pleasant pair to watch on screen, and it adds to the refreshing quality of the film.

The film also has the signature Laxamana brand of humor we’ve seen in most of his films that really gets me everytime. It may go a bit overboard at times, but I still like it. It’s one of the factors that made me enjoy the film as well. I also like how it doesn’t delve into romance right away, allowing their relationship to bloom rather than forcing us to believe that they’re madly in love with each other right away, which makes for a satisfying experience.

Between Maybes gets it all right. It smoothly flowed into its story, nothing felt forced, nothing felt awkward. Everything was just right. Along with strong performances from Julia Barretto and Gerald Anderson, and the masterful direction of Jason Paul Laxamana, this may very well be the best rom-com of the year so far, and it deserves to be seen by many.

My Rating: 9/10

Here’s the full trailer for ‘Between Maybes’:

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