'Kita Kita' Movie Review: A Fresh Spin On The Cliched Rom-Com

Kita Kita is all lighthearted and funny - until it hits you in the face with the reality of life and death, a MacGuffin that definitely sets it apart from the rest of its genre peers.

“Kita Kita” Movie Review:

We Filipinos love our romantic-comedies - especially ones that have cliched narratives further conflicted by a difference in social status and other nuisances where the lovers eventually defy all odds. Alessandra de Rossi and Empoy Marquez’s newest film perfectly falls into the category - focusing on the supposed disparity in looks. But what sets apart “Kita Kita” is its attempt to put a different spin on a rather beaten skeletal story. Chalk it up to director Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s fresh perspective on the genre and the fun that both de Rossi and Marquez brought to the table that the film is every Pinoy rom-com fan’s dream come true.

We’ve seen it before, beautiful girl fall for the less attractive but full of personality guy - a lot of comedy films in the 1900s follow the same tropes and “Kita Kita” is not an exception. But despite the fact that it has been retreaded multiple times, there is just something so jovial and cathartic seeing two people loving who they love. After all, we as a nation is known naturally romantics.

Empoy Marquez as Tonyo and Alessandra de Rossi as Lea in ‘Kita Kita’
Empoy Marquez as Tonyo and Alessandra de Rossi as Lea in ‘Kita Kita’/Star Cinema
Boasting a roster of Philippine movie A-listers as its producers like Piolo Pascual and Bb. Joyce Bernal, “Kita Kita” tackles the story of a blind woman, Lea (de Rossi) who develops a relationship with a funny guy (Marquez). Set on the streets of Sapporo, Japan, the scenic background coupled with its great musical score intensify every frame of the film, - be it an emotional sequence or a downright hilarious one. A cause of warning, however, the film is a bit of a slow burn. The first act of the film is a bit too kooky and sometimes down right cheesy - to the point that you know that it is going for the cutesy Japanese media culture. But just when you thought where the story is going, its story spirals in a blink of an eye - elevating the film to greater heights.

Following Lea’s recent mishaps in her personal life, her neighbor Tonyo tries to help her by cheering her up and bringing Filipino food. The former tourist guide was repulsive at first, but due to Tonyo’s perseverance and cheerful disposition, he was able to get close to Lea and the two start to develop friendship and ultimately, adoration. Unfortunately, moments just after Lea regains her eyesight and sees Tonyo, the latter was suddenly ran-down by a car - causing his death. From then, Lea discovers things about Tonyo which helped her see the world on a different light.

Alessandra de Rossi as Lea and Empoy Marquez as Tonyo
Alessandra de Rossi as Lea and Empoy Marquez as Tonyo in ‘Kita Kita’/Star Cinema
Bernardo’s attempted to mish and mash a lot of already used tropes in various romance film - this could have been a disaster and could have easily made “Kita Kita” unfocused and underdeveloped. But intriguingly, the way the film was crafted together somehow worked. The risk resulted into a feel good movie that is also grounded.

Its utilization of the cliches paired well with the additional levity that Marquez brought to his performance - from his quippy lines to his facial expression, were all strung together very well. It’s even surprising that even with the sometimes cringe-worthy dialog, its emotional message was effectively conveyed - especially with the death scene, which was shown just enough to merit the audible gasp and the subsequent grief that Lea felt.

While “Kita Kita” is far from perfect - with some bits tend to run a little bit too long or too exaggerated and the gags were hit and miss, it is a certified good time in the cinema. It used localized humor that almost every Pinoy can relate to or at least catch the reference. Further and most importantly, it was able to come up with a great new way to utilize the usual tropes seen in the romantic comedy genre. It packs all the emotional punch and yet it is lighthearted and feel-good.

WATCH: “Kita Kita” movie trailer

-- ALD, The Summit Express

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