“Noong nakakakita ka, ‘di mo ako nakita. Nang mabulag ka, doon mo lang ako nakita.” – Tonyo
This is a review of Spring Films’ Kita Kita (I See You).
To say that Spring Films’ Kita Kita (I See You) is a story of a boy and a girl would be true, but it would not be whole truth. Kita Kita (I See You) is a story of a boy and a girl, but it is a love story unlike any other because the boy is not what every girl dreams of falling in love with when she grows up. While the girl looks like a fairytale princess, the boy is the opposite of the image of the attractive prince charming Disney is selling to girls everywhere, which places the boy way low on the totem pole. Way way way low. Despite, or maybe because of, the disparity of their physical attributes, their love story is more relatable to the masa. Majority of the people do not look picture perfect 24/7 in real life but they still fall in love.
Labeled as the “romcom ng mga pangit” (romantic comedy film of unattractive people), Kita Kita (I See You) stars Alessandra de Rossi and Empoy Marquez, actors that are neither known for romantic comedy movies nor for being part of loveteams. Yet, just like the other loveteams, Alessandra and Empoy have generated their own name combination, AlEmpoy, it is not as catchy sounding as Kathniel or Lizquen, but AlEmpoy is just as cute as “ang loveteam na ‘di mo inakala” (the unconventional loveteam). Kita Kita (I See You) is directed by Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo.
Lea (Alessandra de Rossi) is a Filipino tour guide who lives in Sapporo, Japan. She is simple, smart, kind, and very pretty. She enjoys biking and talking to her non-bonsai plants. She is engaged to Nobu, a Japanese, who is more of a phone-boyfriend than a real one. Lea’s life changes dramatically on the night she finds out that Nobu is sneaking around with her friend Aiko, she also experiences temporary blindness and faints on the pavement.
Whilst Lea recuperates, Tonyo (Empoy Marquez), a fellow Filipino who lives across the street from her, appears seemingly out of thin air. Tonyo tries his hardest to gain his kababayan’s trust (I do not blame her, being blind and alone will surely make anyone wary of strangers). He cooks Filipino food like adobo, sinigang, kaldereta, and even turon to put a smile on Lea’s maasim na mukha (unpleasant disposition), and talks to her even when she does not want his company.
Once Lea feels comfortable with Tonyo around, they make use of Lea’s experience as a tour guide to visit some tourist spots, one in particular is romantic, with Tonyo acting as Lea’s eyes. While most pairs will show kilig, Lea and Tonyo display playfulness with words and actions. It is refreshing.
However, their happy moments together do not last. A tragedy occurs, and everything turns black just as Lea ironically regains her sight.
While the first part of Kita Kita (I See You) is told from Lea’s point of view, the second part is narrated from Tonyo’s perspective. He is jilted by his one and only love and later on follows what the beer can says and moves to Sapporo. Unbeknownst to Lea, Tonyo the good neighbor with a teeny-weeny tendency of being a pervert (he is not, actually) is the ambulant person she regularly helps. In order to repay her kindness, Tonyo helps her in her direst time of need. Of all the sweet things he has done for her, making 1000 paper cranes takes the cake. They say that a person who folds 1000 paper cranes will be granted his most desired wish. Can you guess Tonyo’s wish?
I will break tradition by not telling what happens in the final third of Kita Kita (I See You). I respect the way the people behind the film make the story to be as less predictable as they could (even the first part is pretty predictable, but entertainingly so) and for handling the narration in a not-so-déjà-vu-ish manner. Because of this, level of interest of the audience does not taper off at any moment of the storytelling.
The representations of heart and banana in the movie poster make sense after watching this film, and I adore puso so much. I especially find the reference to Mark Lapid’s line, “saging lang ang may puso!” cute (the line is puso lang ang may saging).
Once again, Alessandra proves that she has acting chops. She is so natural and genuine as Lea. She does not care if she looks awkward in some scenes (dancing scenes come to mind) as long as she stays true to her character. Her laughter is sincerely merry and her tears are heartfelt. Her eyes convey messages that words cannot express. One look at those soulful eyes, one will know that Alessandra has seen things and malalim ang pinaghuhugutan niya ng emosyon.
I am not sure if I have seen Empoy in any of his previous works, or if I have, I cannot remember any of it. This is the curse of being a sidekick or a funny cousin/friend/officemate. Now that Empoy is given the chance to be the protagonist, he grabs the opportunity and shows the world that, well, he can be John Lloyd Cruz-material. It is a given that Empoy will be at ease in doing the comedic parts of the film. What is surprising is the Empoy in relatively serious scenes. The change from Tonyo the good neighbor to Tonyo the drunk is jarring. He looks like a saint as the former and a possible-rapist in latter, and he backs up the physical contrariety with proper speech and facial expressions.
I have to say that Lea and Tonyo are good representations of real people. They are OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) struggling in a land whose people treat them like second-class citizens and missing their families back home (distant relatives in Iloilo for Lea). Their conversations sound normal, like how two people talk and not some kilometric mushy monologues that sound forced. The lines are witty without sounding smart-alecky. It also helps that Empoy looks like one of us. We can say that may pag-asa pa tayo (there is hope for us) to find that one true love, if we give our all and we love truly, madly, deeply.
This is a minor spoiler, but I need to write that the last part, where Lea puts the blindfold, imagines Tonyo’s presence and dances like nobody’s watching, is a powerfully poignant moment. At that point, I realize that Lea and Tonyo’s love story will endure. As of this writing, I can still envision Lea lifting Tonyo into the air to the tune of Two Less Lonely People in the World.
I may be wrong in saying that Tonyo is the new benchmark for Prince Charming, and Empoy might possibly join John Lloyd Cruz as the go-to leading man for Filipino romcom.
For the hugot lines of Kita Kita (I See You), please read Kita Kita (I See You) – Hugot Edition.