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    ‘Isa Pa with Feelings’ Movie Review: Carlo Aquino and Maine Mendoza fall in love and not much else

    *Minor Spoilers Ahead*

    Black Sheep’s latest offering continues the trend of pairing up unlikely romantic partners, this time with Carlo Aquino and Maine Mendoza playing Gali and Mara who come together for a sign language class in Prime Cruz’s “Isa Pa with Feelings.” In the hopes of better communication with her deaf niece, Mara enlists the help of Gali (who’s deaf himself) to teach her sign.

    Carlo Aquino as Gali and Maine Mendoza as Mara in ‘Isa Pa with Feelings’
    Carlo Aquino as Gali and Maine Mendoza as Mara in ‘Isa Pa with Feelings’/Black Sheep
    Carlo Aquino as Gali and Maine Mendoza as Mara in ‘Isa Pa with Feelings’/Black Sheep
    Carlo Aquino as Gali and Maine Mendoza as Mara in ‘Isa Pa with Feelings’/Black Sheep

    Between their sessions and coincidentally being neighbors, Gali and Mara grow closer together. Ironically, the thing that brings them together is exactly the one threatening to break them apart.

    Maine Mendoza as Mara and Carlo Aquino as Gali in ‘Isa Pa with Feelings'
    Maine Mendoza as Mara and Carlo Aquino as Gali in ‘Isa Pa with Feelings’/Black Sheep

    A love story and not much else…

    “Isa Pa with Feelings” is a love story at its core, and it mainly functions as that. The film didn’t skimp on actually developing Gali and Mara’s relationship. It was chock full of the mandatory “kilig” moments, and impressively, most of them were handled extremely well. What would’ve easily been cringeworthy moments were executed tastefully.

    While Aquino and Mendoza don’t have the palpable chemistry other love teams have, they pulled off their respective parts. Mendoza has noticeably gotten better with her dramatic scenes, and as most of the time, she’s on-point with her comedic timing. Aquino, on the other hand, proves why he’s one of the most enduring actors in the industry.

    Unfortunately, there’s not much to the story after that. “Isa Pa with Feelings” started with establishing Mara as a promising architect who surprisingly tanked the bar. We know she has a family and is actually a valuable asset in her place of work, that despite failing to be an actual architect, they’re still very much willing to keep her.

    It’s a good character foundation, but other than passing comments and brief appearances from her co-workers, the overall narrative barely had anything to do with this part of her life.

    In fact, even the very motivation of her wanting to learn sign was never visited again. After her niece’s initial appearance, she never made it back on screen, and wasn’t mentioned again.

    At least Mara had something going with her as it wasn’t the case with Gali. Everything we know about him revolves around his deafness - an anti-climactic way to send a message that different-abled people shouldn’t be defined by their struggles.

    We know he’s a sign language teacher who also volunteers to help kids who are deaf like him. He’s applying for a scholarship at a U.S. school hoping that he can better help his students.

    Towards the end, it’s revealed that Gali was left by his fiancee because he’s deaf. Amidst all this, there’s the outlying element of a dance recital, which could’ve been better incorporated into Gali’s story other than via a montage of flashbacks.

    Carlo Aquino as Gali and Maine Mendoza as Mara in ‘Isa Pa with Feelings’
    Carlo Aquino as Gali and Maine Mendoza as Mara in ‘Isa Pa with Feelings’/Black Sheep

    “Isa Pa with Feelings” shines a light on a love story riddled with not-your-typical issues. The decision to slowly develop Mara and Gali relationship is a more realistic way of depicting how love can sneak up on us. Unfortunately, it set up too many subplots that ultimately didn’t go anywhere. In hindsight, the leads feel like cardboard characters, only existing to fit the criteria established for this specific movie.

    RATING: 6 out of 10

    Watch the trailer here:


    — ALD, The Summit Express

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