‘100 Tula Para Kay Stella’ Movie Review: A Nostalgic Ride Back To The Days of Rock Bands & Heartbreaks

*Minor Spoilers Ahead*

Coming from critically acclaimed director, Jason Paul Laxamana, “100 Tula Para Kay Stella” takes on the story of the relationship progression between rocker chick Stella (Bella Padilla) and smart but stutterer, Fidel in a span of a few years in college following a chance encounter in their Freshie year. Narratively-hinged on their friendship, the two’s bond, however, gets tested by various personal issues.

‘100 Tula Para Kay Stella’ Movie Review
Bella Padilla as Stella and JC Santos as Fidel in ‘100 Tula Para Kay Stella’/Viva Entertainment
Set in the mid 2000s - the Pinoy band golden years, grounding Stella as someone who aspires to take a piece of that attention is not at all farfetched. In fact, those who will go see “100 Tula” might remember how small-time bands populated schools during the era. The callbacks are very fulfilling, especially if you are familiar with the musical dominance age of Rivermaya and Sugarfree, Barbie Almalbis and Dice and K9 (who remembers Itsumo?). It’s a cathartic type of nostalgia brought about by the references, as well as, the multiple appearance of the brick Nokia phone.

Furthermore, the inciting incident, although very simple, gives the film some realness to it. The whole movie was kicked-off by Stella’s act of kindness towards Fidel who was rather intimidated to socialize during Freshie’s night. A couple of years after, while reminiscing on their first night together, Fidel asked her why she helped him, to which Stella nonchalantly replied “ewan.” It’s subtle in a way that their whole relationship started not because of fate or something superficial, but because Stella took the initiative to reach out to someone who was obviously struggling without any prejudice.

‘100 Tula Para Kay Stella’ Bella Padilla JC Santos
Bella Padilla as Stella and JC Santos as Fidel in ‘100 Tula Para Kay Stella’/Viva Entertainment
The film’s waterloo however lies in its tonal inconsistency. At times it tried to be lighthearted, sweet and charming and then all of a sudden, it becomes very dark - most especially with the projected complexities of Stella’s character. While range in a story is not necessarily always a bad move, it is difficult to jump from one story palette to another, without any kind of clever set-up and with a slow-burn film like “100 Tula” which events have been sparsed out in a few years.

In conjunction to that, the two main characters are a bit underbaked in terms of establishing main leads carrying a supposed two-way life journey. Stella, as previously mentioned, flip flopped in her actions and thought process which could pass up if she was presented as someone who was conflicted between wanting to do what is practical and following her dreams. But from the get-go, she had tunnel vision when it comes to making it big as a singer. She is stubborn with her mindset, so it is quite jarring to find out that by the end, she just settled for a life that she has never even tinkered about.

Fidel, on the other hand, while a bit more streamlined of a character, still lacked a trajectory. His speech disorder, which was supposedly a MacGuffin to his story, somehow got lost in the shuffle by the second act and was not really given a strong pay-off despite the fact that he found comfortability with performing in front of an audience.

‘100 Tula Para Kay Stella’ Bella Padilla JC Santos
Bella Padilla as Stella and JC Santos as Fidel in ‘100 Tula Para Kay Stella’/Viva Entertainment
“100 Tula” would have probably worked a whole lot of better without its bold attempt for a grittier and edgier story. Both actors did a prolific job with the material given, it just didn’t have the strong foundation it needed for it to earn the ending it went with. That said, it is still worth the watch even with just the stylistic risk that it took even if was not executed as flawlessly as it could have been - proving that Filipino films are thriving in terms of offering something new to movie audiences.

“100 Tula Para Kay Stella” is part of this year’s first ever Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino where several other local films are played in cinemas nationwide starting August 16 to 22.

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Watch full trailer here.

-- ALD, The Summit Express

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