Jar of hearts: A ‘The Day after Valentine’s’ film review

4.28 over 5 stars.

Here goes Fidel and Stella, breaking hearts once more. But this time, as Kai and Lani.

I must admit, I had second thoughts on watching “The Day after Valentine’s”. I watched JC Santos and Bela Padilla’s prior heart-wrencher, “100 Tula para kay Stella”, and I totally loved it. Hence, I had doubts whether or not The Daywill live up to the lofty bar set by “100 Tula.”

Still, I decided to watch it on the big screen, and I am truly glad I did.

Kaimana “Kai” Ramos (JC Santos) is obviously having a wild night when he receives a call from Lani Murphy (Bela Padilla). She informs him that she is coming to see him at the night club in 15 minutes. Little did Kai know, Lani was just across the street, watching him from afar. She sets her timer to 15 minutes, and begins recounting the past year.

Lani first met Kai while she was doing overtime work at a clothing shop owned by Ate Tess (Regine Tolentino). She forgot to switch the door sign to “CLOSED”. Because of this, an insistent customer, Kai, made his way in, looking for arm bands worn by motorcyclists.

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Time went by but Kai has not yet returned to the counter to pay. Paranoid, Lani goes to look for him throughout the entire place. Alas, only one final area has not been searched – the fitting room! She pulls the curtain open, and finds Kai shirtless. Surprised, she pulls back the curtain, apologizes, and shouts at him to hurry up to ease her guilt.

However, Lani saw something more striking. There were cuts on Kai’s arm, probably out of self-harm. She talks to him about this, and invites him to dinner. Soon, they become friends.

Lani learns that Kai was hurting from his recent break-up with his now-ex-girlfriend, Anne. Lani then resolves to help him move on by repeatedly asking him things that he hates the most about Anne. They did so by using the Baybayin, the pre-Hispanic alphabet of the ancient Filipinos. I really liked how Baybayin became a plot mechanism to drive the story forward. This greatly promoted our national identity and culture. Yay!

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Anyway, soon, Kai informs Lani that his visa is about to expire. You see, he is half-Filipino, half-Hawaiian. He was just here for a vacation, and chose to extend his trip for three years just to be with Anne. What a waste, is it not?

Kai invites Lani on an all-expense-paid-by-Kai trip to Lanai. However, Lani asserts that she will shoulder her own expenses.

And so, we find them exploring the eyegasmic sceneries of Lanai in Hawaii. They are truly breathtaking! I would probably book myself a trip there sometime. (PS the movie’s overall color grading is cool, as well)

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On the last day of their Hawaii escapade, Kai, upon discovering that Lani has feelings for him, also develops the same towards her. However, he informs her that he is choosing to stay behind in Lanai to make up with his family. A fight ensues, but is resolved when Kai assures Lani that he will come back for her.

Back in the Philippines, Lani still has a hangover of her out-of-the-country trip with Kai. But as they say, when you get too happy, you will be reclaimed by sadness.

One night, on her way home, Lani is confronted by her dark past. We get to see Lani’s strong and independent persona get shattered into a million pieces. Indeed, Lani has become the previous Kai. The repairwoman has transformed to be the broken girl.

This part of the movie showed us how versatile Bela is as an actress. In most part of the film, we witnessed Lani as a cheerful young lady who shows a powerful character. She was the one who fixed Kai, after all! However, towards the last few moments of the movie, we saw the sudden change in her personality. We saw her as a poor girl wrecked and haunted by the shadows of her past. Bela has effectively portrayed these two personas of Lani. At first, the audience laughed at her wits, but as we neared the end, everyone began to sympathize with her. Kudos, Bela!

The plot of “The Day” seemed simple at first, but then we learn of Lani’s backstory as the movie neared its finale. This added flavor to the story strengthened the foundation to Lani’s character, making the viewers feel her more.

With Lani now being overcome by her gloomy history, what will happen to her just-budding romance with Kai?

Well, why don’t you head over to the nearest cinema, and go figure out for yourself?

Film Score Board_The Day after Valentines

Anyway, although “100 Tula” has truly raised my expectations on “The Day after Valentine’s”, I was not disappointed by the latter. It had its own unique take on a tearjerker, though “100 Tula” is still emotion-heavier for me.

Still, “The Day” has some important lessons to share. For one, it tells the viewers that sometimes, the people who smile, who appear strong, who are helping others to be strong like them, are the ones who are actually fragile and broken inside. And we would not know it until they tell us, or until it is too late.

Congratulations to the team behind “The Day after Valentine’s” on successfully collecting our hearts once more, and crushing them to dust! Hopefully though, we get to learn what really happens on that day after Valentine’s.

This blog post’s featured image is a screencap from the trailer (copyright Viva Films).

 

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