*This entry contains major spoilers, hugot lines and review of the movie Barcelona: A Love Untold
Barcelona: A Love Untold is the first mature movie of Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, collectively known as Kathniel. It is directed by Olivia Lamasan.
The opening scene of Star Cinema’s Barcelona: A Love Untold is a happy occasion, the birthday of future architect Ely (Daniel Padilla). Every moment is captured on video by Ely’s girlfriend, Celine. Celine sounds sweet but remains faceless throughout the celebration. That is an omen that things will go downhill from there, and they did.
Two years later, Ely is on a train bound to Barcelona. He appears nostalgic as he watches the same video. Then, like a blast from the past, a girl in all-white ensemble who looks like Celine walks by to bring him out of his reverie. Without thinking, he calls her “Celine”, but the girl ignores him and walks away in her high-heeled shoes.
The Celine doppelganger is Mia (Kathryn Bernardo), a newbie in Barcelona who is struggling to find a job and keep her living quarters. While Ely cannot forget Celine, Mia wants to forget the life she left in the Philippines. She writes the same sentiment on her journal, in capital letters punctuated by several exclamation points.
In this film, Barcelona seems like a tiny place because Ely and Mia bump into each other regularly in random spots, with La Sagrada Família as the most picturesque one, with the former staring at the latter with disbelief and the latter glancing at the former with annoyance and disgust.
This staring contest continues until Mia finds herself in a precarious situation. Like a knight in shining armor, Ely comes to rescue the passed out Mia from the evil clutches of a young and dashing Spaniard. Ely must be racking up serious brownie points for he rescues Mia once more after she gets evicted from her living quarters. He offers her shelter at the house he shares with his aunt Insiang (Aiko Melendez) and her son Tonying (Joshua Garcia). Then again when she loses her job for the nth time.
Mia is inept as a market vendor, a nanny and a hotel maid. She does not have the stomach to be an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) because she is from a well-to-do family and considers herself a professional, cleaning a guest’s vomit with what looks like a face towel (Mia could have used her hair since Ely told her she looked like a mop in one scene) is beneath her.
It might be due to her damsel-in-distress situations or seeing Ely naked (nah, there is no nude scene of Daniel Padilla, but the Kathniel fans screamed with glee), Mia finds herself liking Ely more and more. But Ely has more pressing problems. He is a graduate student in Architecture. Also, as the breadwinner of his family in the Philippines, he spends his free time juggling three jobs, and there is that little thing called being in love with the ghost of Celine (nope, not that ghost). Ely has no time for a weak girl like Mia who cries at the drop of a hat. Oh, she also fakes cry in the weirdest kind of way.
Like Barney Stinson, Mia accepts Ely’s aloofness (not accepting her friend request) as a challenge. She buckles down and works hard without any hint of complaint. Ely may be a little cold to her, but he is not blind. He notices Mia’s new positive attitude towards menial jobs, so he helps her get a second one which makes spending time with each other possible. They work on prenuptial videos together, him as a photographer (?) and her as a writer. Finally, Ely accepts Mia’s friend request and that leads to more-than-friendly conversations and actions. They talk to Celine in midair (yes, just watch the film), hold hands and kiss. On the lips. The kilig moments between Ely and Mia made the Kathniel fans’ scream more with alacrity.
As mentioned above, this is the first mature movie of Kathniel. Watching Kathryn sweat through her poreless skin and Daniel worry enough to incur bags under his eyes will not cut it, so Ely and Mia have to put an end to hand-holding and booty-shaking.
On her death anniversary, the ghost of Celine haunts their budding relationship (nope, this is not a horror movie, so there is no real ghost) with Celine’s mother’s call from Laguna, Philippines to remind Ely of his past and their common loss. Ely cannot turn his back on Celine’s parents easily because they put him through school in Barcelona. The situation worsens when Mia tries to meddle in Ely’s may malalim na pinaghuhugutang relationship with his mother.
With her visa expiring, Ely not caring about her and a tense relationship with her father, Mia and her high heels almost committed suicide at the train platform. She changes her mind and decides to apologize to all, including to herself, at La Sagrada Família where she bumps into who else but Ely.
An exchange of apologies and bittersweet words ensues. There is where Mia utters, “Huwag mo akong mahalin dahil mahal kita. Mahalin mo ako kasi mahal mo ako because that is what I deserve.” Yes, you just read mahal (love) in two forms four times. Whoever wrote this must have not met a thesaurus or is going for something that can be easily remembered.
So Mia and her high heels fly to the Philippines back to the now-forgiving arms of her family. Her career as a writer is also on the rise because she works for Director Cathy Garcia-Molina.
Meanwhile, Ely (I assume) finishes his MA degree and goes home as well. He talks to Celine’s parents and tells them what he really feels about the situation. Celine’s mother (Liza Diño) walks out teary-eyed, but her father (Cris Villanueva) understands that Ely is too young to be chained to the memory of their dead daughter.
In one of the shoots, Mia and Ely meet again, I do not know how, but they did. They stare at each other once again but this time without annoyance or disgust. No words transpire between them and they end up in each other’s arms.
Later, Mia and Ely are in Barcelona all lovey-dovey. With La Sagrada Família in the background, Ely proposes to Mia and sealed it with a kiss or three. At this point, the Kathniel fans screamed like it would be illegal to make a sound after they exit the theater.
Barcelona: A Love Untold is the coming-of-age film for Kathryn and Daniel as a loveteam and as such it ticks several appropriate boxes. Family problems, check. Personal tragedy, check. Buckets of tears, check. Showing some skin, check. Kissing on the lips, check, check, check. Yet it lacks emotional depth. A handful of potentially touching scenes happen all at once or in close succession of each other, maybe to force an emotional response from the viewer, but it just makes the movie convoluted. Too many problems and conflict, too little time.
Also, some scenes seem out of place or out of sequence as if some parts of the movie did not make the end product. For example, the interactions between Mia and Ely are confusing at times. It surprised me when Mia was so affected that Ely did not accept her friend request and just became giddy when her sister teased her. It was so sudden because she seemed to be ambivalent towards him two scenes ago. That scene towards the end with Director Garcia-Molina is also mind-boggling. Ely just appears out of nowhere in the area, in his motorbike no less, without any build-up. Does Ely have a crystal ball where he can see where Mia is any moment of the day?
The prenup videos were a mess. Seriously, did they have to show so many couples? Most, if not all, of them did not know how to act. And what does “my dance will make you live” or something mean? The prenup videos take the momentum away from the romance that was brewing between Mia and Ely at the time. Those are precious moments that could have been used to prolong some of the touching scenes to make the viewer truly commit to the film.
Speaking of commitment to the film, Daniel Padilla is one committed guy. He looks natural in front of the camera. He delivers his lines as if he was talking to a friend and is not afraid to look less than his physical best. He looks genuinely subservient but not defeated in his video calls with his father (Joey Marquez). His confrontation scene with his mother (Maria Isabel Lopez) reminds me of his scene with his character’s mother in Crazy Beautiful You, another Kathniel movie. Daniel shows restraint in both scenes and let his eyes do some of the talking. In my mind, Barcelona: A Love Untold proves that Daniel has a bright future as a serious actor, if and when Kathniel ends.
Kathryn Bernardo is not as compelling as her partner, but thank goodness the clogged nose that plagued her in Crazy Beautiful You is not as pronounced in Barcelona: A Love Untold. The sipon-induced voice is gone but is replaced by weird crying. Unlike Daniel who goes all out in funny and serious scenes, Kathryn seems to hold back especially when she cries. The weird fake cries aside (two scenes, one with her sister and another with Insiang), the supposedly genuine crying moments are a pain to watch. Not to the heart, but to the eyes. Kathryn appears to be crying and smiling at the same time, like she is afraid to do the ugly cry. However, the screen loves Kathryn. She looks beautiful even with that mop of hair. She just needs to elevate her acting a little in order to be comparable to Daniel.
Having said all that, Barcelona: A Love Untold succeeds in showcasing some of the world-famous spots of the Catalan capital. La Sagrada Família, dubbed as the world’s most beautiful apology, gets the attention it deserves. That alone, and the number of “vale” said throughout the film, justifies the price of the movie ticket.
- I know it is part of the title of the film, but why Barcelona? Isn’t Spain in the middle of an economic crisis? Why will Mia’s character go there and look for a job?
- I like the part where Mia and Ely had wine. ¡Salud!
- My favorite Barcelona: A Love Untold hugot line is said by Insiang, “Ingat ka sa lungkot-lungkot na ‘yan. Mahirap magmahal ng tao na ‘di pa tapos magmahal ng iba.” True story.
- My second favorite Barcelona: A Love Untold hugot line belongs to Mia, “Kung nandiyan siya, nasan ako? San lulugar ang mga taong gustong magmahal sa ‘yo?”
- I love the screaming fans. They almost ran out of oxygen by the end of the last kiss between Ely and Mia.