Monday, January 30, 2012

Review: "My Cactus Heart"

My Cactus Heart is an interesting movie because while the premise is familiar there are new stuff in it worth checking out. Star Cinema is labeling it as a “mainstream-indie hybrid” as it is produced by their new indie outfit Skylight Films (ala Fox Searchlight of 20th Century Fox) which I interpret as a commercial story produced under an indie budget. It's an experimental movie of some sort but while I could see the effort to take the Pinoy romcom genre to a different direction, they weren't brave enough to pursue it as they still settled for what is expected. Sandy (Maja Salvador) swears off love after her dad left their family when she was young. But Sandy's stance is challenged when she meets Karlo (Matteo Guidicelli) who is willing to do everything just to win her heart.

The movie opens with an animated sequence which is quite lovely and while the technical side of it is not as polished as RPG: Metanoia was, it was still captivating and quite artistic too boot. Seeing that sequence made me think that this movie could be unique. And true enough, the narrative style of the movie used various techniques and tricks in introducing the characters and the story. It's an interesting take as we actually don't know what to expect. Or so it seems. Sadly, the non-linear approach of storytelling was just halfhearted as the movie practically abandoned it in the second half in favor of the Pinoy romcom template. It was really disappointing because they could really do more if they didn't held back.

The script did a good job in developing the love story of Sandy and Karlo. While there's a cheesy soulmate angle squeezed in, the movie was still able to make you feel the natural progress of two people falling for each other. However, the script tends to over explain the characters' feelings especially Sandy's apprehension with love but the direction was competent enough to not let everything be spoonfed to the audience and just let the small moments speak for themselves.

Competent direction is supported by good performances from the cast. Maja Salvador might not be the biggest or most hyped star of her generation but this young actress' screen presence is strong. She delivers her lines with ease and makes you understand her character even more. Matteo Guidicelli is quite a surprise as he did a solid job and the only thing that held him back was his accent which is distracting at times. Xian Lim's role is not as important as the marketing of this movie would suggest otherwise but he did okay and has the charisma of a leading man (the girls in the theater where we watched this squealed when he first appeared on screen).

My Cactus Heart attempted to be a step above of your typical local romcom but in the end it falls short. Overall, it's still a good movie but it just didn't live up to the potential and it's quite a shame. 7 / 10

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