Can’t Help Falling In Love

This is a summary and review of Star Cinema’s Can’t Help Falling In Love. This entry has spoilers, so read at your own risk.

Star Cinema’s Can’t Help Falling in Love is a romantic comedy movie of Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, also known as Kathniel. It comes at the heels of Kathniel’s highly successful first mature movie, Barcelona: A Love Untold. Can’t Help Falling In Love is directed by Mae Cruz-Alviar.

For Kathniel related entries, please read Can’t Help Falling In Love – Hugot Edition, Barcelona: A Love Untold, and Crazy Beautiful You.

 

Can’t Help Falling In Love starts on February 8, 2016, with a mass wedding in a small town officiated by Mayor Luis Villarin (Zanjoe Marudo). Upon seeing a row of lovers holding hands and ready to spend forever with their partners, Jose Ibarra “Dos” Garcia Gonzales, Jr. (Daniel Padilla), a close friend of the mayor, feels sadness mixed with a dash of envy. Meanwhile, in another wedding, Gabriela “Gab” Benedictos de la Cuesta (Kathryn Bernardo) is part of her friend’s entourage. She cannot be happier for the couple for she sees herself following in their step soon enough.

Fate intervenes when Dos’s and Gab’s paths cross in an after-wedding party. After a beer or twelve and a close encounter in the men’s comfort room, Gab joins Dos’s group. In the middle of merriment and with their judgment clouded by alcohol, the two decide to get married, sign the wedding contract with witnesses to boot, and think that everything is a joke.

A year after, with that particular drunken night forgotten, Gab is now engaged to Jason Aguinaldo (Matteo Guidicelli), a lawyer reviewing for the New York bar. Jason, her knight in shining armor, has been Gab’s boyfriend for six years. As part of the wedding preparation, Gab needs to secure a copy of CENOMAR (Certificate of No Marriage). Just imagine her horror when she receives a marriage certificate instead. What she thought was a fake marriage was actually filed and validated as real.

With her wedding to Jason fast approaching, Gab has no other recourse but to contact her supposedly fake husband, Dos, to help her in time of great need. With one look at the marriage certificate, Dos blurts out, “legal talaga ‘to. Misis talaga kita.” With their witnesses unable to testify the state of their mind the night they got married, Gab and Dos remain married. 

Gab de la Cuesta (Kathryn Bernardo) and Dos Gonzales (Daniel Padilla) in Star Cinema’s Can’t Help Falling In Love. This is huge poster in Gateway Cinemas.

Of course, Gab the perfect daughter and girlfriend cannot be married to someone like Dos. Gab has her future planned out for her by her mother (Cherry Pie Picache) and Jason, the two most influential persons in her life. Meanwhile, Dos is more of a go-with-the-flow-come-what-may kind of guy who is thankful to God for every day that he has and thus, makes the best out of it by communing with nature.

Gab pleads to Dos to aid her in annulling their marriage, without her mother and Jason’s knowledge, so she can marry the man of her dreams. They eventually find a lawyer who looks dubious because of the way he dresses and the appearance of his law office. The lawyer gives them four grounds for annulment, namely, Dos’s impotence, Dos’s unbearable jealousy, Gab’s insanity, and Gab’s homosexuality (because Dos claims that, “walang maniniwalang bakla ako!”). Each ground is crossed out as they face unbudgeable obstacles.

While they eliminate each ground from the list, they discover that they cannot do the same thing to each other. In the midst of bickering, crying, and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (yes, the kissed! But I am sure that after Barcelona, any kiss they will have will not be as memorable as their first), they laugh out loud, laugh at each other and with each other, and they make (terrible) music together.

As they are on the verge of giving up hope to uncouple, one of the witnesses, Nilo (Joross Gamboa), surfaces in Cebu. It means a road trip for Gab, Dos, Gab’s friend Viel (Kristel Fulgar) and Dos’s cousin Bal (Janus del Prado). Like the run-of-the-mill Filipino romcom movies, the trip to Cebu means picturesque locales, sweet moments, almost-there-but-not-quite revelations, and finally, split second clarity to break the bubble of romance that surrounds the protagonists. The last part comes in the form of the wedding coordinator (RS Francisco) who discovers Gab and Dos with the intent of kissing each other.

Just before the teary-eyed Gab leaves for Manila, the woman formerly known as Nilo catches up on her and tells Gab that the latter can testify to nullify the marriage. At that exact moment, Dos’s eyes move like he is in trance and instantaneously falls to the ground.

At the hospital, Gab discovers that Dos has cerebral aneurysm. His condition makes him grateful for every morning he finds himself awake, but it also hinders him from loving someone and promising that someone forever. The revelation rocks Gab to the core, and she sees Dos in a new light.

With the cat out of the bag, Gab is forced to confess to her mother and to Jason. Both show varying degrees of disappointment, but for the first time in her adult life, Gab stands up for herself and puts her virtual puppet masters in their places. She temporarily leaves the former and permanently ends the relationship with the latter. In the meantime, the newly-recovered Dos prepares Mama 2 (Lotlot de Leon), Papa 2 (Dennis Padilla), and Bal for the outcome of his surgery.

This will not be a Star Cinema romcom movie if Dos dies and Gab visits his grave. So, Dos survives the surgery with flying colors and gives Gab her pang-habambuhay na halik.

 

Can’t Help Falling In Love is a lighter movie than Barcelona: A Love Untold, a romantic comedy, which is the strongest genre for Kathryn and Daniel. However, it is disillusioning to note that Alviar, who directed Crazy Beautiful You, a decent Kathniel movie, fails to get the best out of her actors. Can’t Help Falling In Love lacks the soul that Crazy Beautiful You has, and most of it is due to the retrogression of the performances of Kathryn and Daniel.

Admittedly, Kathryn has the kinikilig and surprised looks down pat. The widening of the eyes, the opening of her mouth, and the lady-like hand gesture to cover part of said mouth could be trademarked as Kathryn Bernardo’s. Thankfully, her sinisipon-ako-ngayon voice is also absent in this movie. Most importantly, her fake cries that were so distracting in Barcelona: A Love Untold were replaced by pabebe cries – singhot singhot with a lot noise coupled with shoulder movement. Believe me when I say that this type of cry is better. On the downside, Kathryn continues to be conscious of the camera like she wants the camera to catch her good angles, and only her good angles. Even in her scenes with Kristel, the newcomer seems more at ease in front of the camera than her, who has been acting since she was a child. And please someone tell Kathryn not do sing again. Her rendition of Panalangin is cringe-worthy.

Sadly, this is not a good film for Daniel. I was blown away by how natural and heart-tugging his acting was in Crazy Beautiful You and Barcelona: A Love Untold, but his performance in Can’t Help Falling In Love is way below par. If this was golf, it was a quadruple bogey. He does well in pampakilig scenes as he and Kathryn have natural chemistry onscreen. The way he looks at her in the bar while Kathryn fake laughs in an almost irritating way makes me believe that Daniel is genuinely into her. Call me shallow, but I know I will not be into a girl (or boy) who laughs the way she does in those bar scenes. Sure, Dos has cerebral aneurysm and that in itself is serious, but Daniel does not have emotionally heavy scenes in this film, along the lines of his confrontation scene with his mother in Crazy Beautiful You or his subservient attitude to his father in Barcelona: A Love Untold. Without those, his character has nothing to work with. His character becomes second fiddle to Gab’s to make Kathryn shine brightly like a supernova.

Star Cinema films have done well with their supporting cast, from Sarah Geronimo’s families in all of her movies and up to My Ex and Whys, but they drop the ball here. No charming dad, no supportive mom, no gay best friend with loud fashion statement, no girl best friend with one-liner that rivals Tywin Lannister’s quips, nothing, nada, zilch. Cherry Pie Picache, Dennis Padilla, and Lotlot de Leon are wasted as the parental figures. Matteo’s Jason is so not a threat to the coupling of Gab and Dos because his presence is 70% on a computer screen and his character is as flat as a cardboard.

To add to the woes of this film, the vows at the end of the film sound like they are recited by two teenagers who have no respect for the sanctity of marriage and do not know the gravity of what they are saying. The exchange of vows in the cave is more heartfelt than this supposedly nakakakilig conclusion. 

Can’t Help Falling In Love is an underwhelming film, even for Star Cinema romcom standards. The story is predictable and the direction seems lazy. It looks like the production is rushed and the director decides not to have more takes and say that what she has is puwede na. The characters are forgettable but the singing is not, in the worst possible way. The singing, ugh, the singing, especially Kathryn’s, is stuff nightmares are made of.

 

Stray Observations:

  1. Why were there so many beer bottles in several scenes? I get it that alcohol was the cause why Gab and Dos got married, but the presence of multiple beer bottles was just an overkill.
  1. I have to agree with Dos, no one will believe that Daniel Padilla is gay.
  1. I have mentioned it before, but I will say it again: Kathryn Bernardo is sooo pretty. The camera loves her. If only she can act naturally in front of the cameras, she will be a decent actress.

 

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