Movie Blog: That Thing Called Tadhana

Where do broken hearts go? And can they find their way home? “That Thing Called Tadhana” tries to answer those questions and more.

Tadhana. Fate. Destiny. Do you guys believe in it?  How about soulmate?thatthingcalledtadhanadsweetbox

Let me tell you upfront that this is the HUGOT film of the year. Most chick-flicks revolve around the blossoming of love. Others focus in the moving on process. This film tried to cross those boundaries and let everyone know that both of them can’t just happen on the same day.

Ever since I missed the initial screening of this movie, I’ve waited for it to be released. Due to positive reviews from fans and critics, the indie film has been picked up by Star Cinema for nationwide release on February 4. So when I finally got to watch it, I was so- so about it.

Before you continue I should warn you that this may contain SPOILERS!!! A lot of emotions and a whole lot more of feelings. So if you think that you will not be able to handle them, you can always press X and come back after you see the movie.

One more thing, PLEASE DO NOT JUDGE ME.

Part of this year’s Cinema One Originals Film Festival is Antoinette Jadaone’s  ‘That Thing Called Tadhana’. A Rom-Com that tells the story of Mace (Angelica Panganiban) and Anthony (JM De Guzman) met, by fate and chance, at the airport in Rome on their way back to Manila. Mace recently got out of a terrible breakup from an eight-year relationship. With nothing better to do, Anthony decides to accompany the damsel in distress from crying in a street corner to heaving large luggage along Session Road. Through a series of embarrassing but endearing events they eventually learn more about each other spurring them to go on an instant trip to Baguio and Sagada to find escape, release and consolation for their romantic miseries. In the process, they found hope for a new love and a new beginning with each other.

The movie started really strong. With the way Angelica’s character, Mace, was throwing away clothes (and even thongs) to fit the baggage allowance on her way back to Manila from Italy, you’d expect more funny scenes and kilig moments just like how JM’s character, Anthony, saved her in that dilemma. The palpable chemistry between the two makes for an engaging and pleasant watch. The two characters were well defined at the beginning– their language, their decisions, etc.

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Antoinette Jadaone’s That Thing Called Tadhana has a small scope, having only two characters and a story that relates to something deeper and more poignant, resisting the kilig factor common to romance films. What’s remarkable about this movie is its simplicity. The movie was mostly just about the two of them – talking, walking, eating, singing, etc. But the lack of actors does not equate to lack of depth. Since it is just the two of them in 95% of the scenes,  you’ll expect that the story will find a way to add some twist. The story also inserted the narrative of the Arrow Pierced with a Heart, which somewhat gave a break on listening to the two characters talk about their past and hopes for the future.

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It is a movie uses the first encounter concept, similar to Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, which made the film a thoroughly pleasant experience. It is the best Filipino version of Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy with a little inspiration from E. E. Cummings’ poem, “I Carry Your Heart With Me”. It was effortlessly romantic despite the absence of any kissing scene; funny without trying to be. Through excellent scriptwriting and realistic portrayals they were able to illustrate the painful, torturous and excruciating walk one goes through after a betrayal and  they were able to capture it down to the last detail. The past is the villain so conversations were prevalent, but it was never a bore especially because they convey the ones that always hits home.

The movie provided a stirring start and with an even more provoking ending. It tells a story that even how dark, cold and tedious your night was, the sun always rises again — beautiful as the glorious Sagada Sunrise—to usher in a new day for your renewed heart ready to make and fight for your destiny.

It’s rare for a movie to simultaneously make you laugh and cry at the same time. That Thing Called Tadhana does it effortlessly, that I walked out of the cinema with a ridiculous grin on my face and overflowing emotion in my heart. In under two hours, Angelica Panganiban and JM de Guzman had me enthralled.

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The movie appealed to the emotions of the viewers as the characterization of our leads seem to be based on real life events, too real that 4 out 5 of those who’ve watched can claim that it’s their story they were watching. It takes ordinary life situations and turns them into a little gem of a movie. It shows that a character-driven plot and well-written dialogue are enough to make for a great story. The compelling storytelling makes the hour and a half movie feels longer, but in a good way. There’s no unnecessary side characters, no filler scenes, no nuances often common in romantic comedies.

Tadhana avoids being predictable. Just when you think they’re about to kiss, the movie takes on a different route. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen next (because it’s what happens in every freakin’ Filipino RomCom!), they turn the other way. They take every Filipino RomCom tropes, then dissect and disassemble them into something fresh, yet familiar.

I found myself squirming with glee in my seat in almost every scene. It may not be a love story in the strictest sense of the concept, but there’s no point in denying that JM and Angelica look great together. Be it in the petty bickering or the intense gaze between the two, it’s easy to like the two, together or as individuals. While Angelica ravishes in her hysterical crying and witty line delivery, JM charms with his controlled tears and quiet gazes.

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Honestly,  this is my first time to watched an indie film so I’m not sure if I’m writing this review right. Anyway, I have watched only this film from the line-up of Cinema One Originals this year. I am glad That Thing Called Tadhana is one of them. The movie isn’t perfect, and there are lapses I am willing to overlook. The gentle moments and silent understanding between Mace and Anthony more than make up for it. They didn’t answer all the hanging questions on love, but they didn’t really need to. Also, what is admirable about the film is how it showcased Baguio and Sagada, you’ll actually invite your company, or probably your partner who is best watching this with you, to go to Baguio. The sea of clouds was fantastic and it would be great if the cinematography managed to capture the clouds while Mace releases her anguish over them. The movie shows what traveling can do to broken hearted folks and how it can develop two people together.

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That Thing Called Tadhana is a meet-cute type of movie, but with more realistic insights on how love affects us mere mortals. In its raw and unpolished takes it succeeds in making us not just see a character but rather a part of ourselves in the film.No heart is hard enough not be swayed or melted with a love so true that it consumes you whole. Mace and Anthony aren’t just movie characters—they’re your friend, officemate, classmate, sister, brother, neighbor, and heck, even you.

Unlike most indies, this one had wide mainstream audience appeal; which definitely a good step forward for Philippine Cinema. The story is completely relatable and brought to life with pithy witty words and delightful disarming performances. I think I want a sequel

Here are some #HUGOT lines from the movie that most, if not all, can relate to.

  1. “Para sa mga umibig, nasaktan, ngunit umibig pa rin. You know, tatanga-tanga.” At the beginning of the film, this lines appeared, which brings some truth in them. This suggests that the film is dedicated and made for those loved and lost, but chose to love again.
  1. Kung mahal mo, habulin mo, ipaglaban mo. Wag mong hintaying may magtulak sa kanya pabalik sa’yo. Hilahin mo. Hanggang kaya mo, wag kang bibitaw.” If you love someone, set them free, right? And if they come back, their yours? No, no. Mace believes that if you love someone, you run after them and fight for them. You don’t wait for destiny to push them back towards you. You pull them hard as long as you can.
  1. “Alam mo ‘yung sinabi ni F. Scott Fitzgerald? There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice.” You will surely see this quote in a different light after watching this film.
  1. “Kasi ‘yung ganyang kalaking pagmamahal, ganyang overwhelming love, imposibleng walang pupuntahan eh. May mababalik sayong pagmamahal. Not necessarily sa taong pinagbigyan mo, pero sigurado ako, mababalik ‘yan sa’yo.” No matter how hard or how long it takes, chances are, you can always recover from a heartbreak. As Anthony said, it’s impossible for an overwhelming love to go to nowhere. That love will always come back to you. It may not necessarily come from the person whom you gave love to, but love will definitely be reciprocated.
  1. “Pano ba makalimot?”“Pwede kang uminom gabi gabi, pwede kang umiyak gabi gabi, pwede kang makipagdate kung kani-kanino, o pwede ka ring makahanap ng new love.” There are many ways to mend a broken heart. You can drown yourself with beer, you can cry every night, you can go out and meet other people, or you can find a new love.

For you guys, who haven’t see the film..here’s the trailer and the OST the film.

 Enjoy, and feel free to let me know if you enjoyed the movie! Happy love month!

 Disclaimer: All photos were from That Thing Called Tadhana’s Facebook Page.

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