MMFF 2016 Review: Vince & Kath & James

Vince & Kath & James operates on a premise that we’ve seen a million times: guy is in love with girl, but girl is in love with guy’s best friend (in this case, cousin). This movie could have failed because of its old material, but shines because of its stars and their undeniable chemistry.

Theodore Boborol’s Vince & Kath & James follows Vince (Joshua Garcia), an engineering student in love with his classmate Kath (Julia Barretto). When Kath wins the Mister and Miss Engineering pageant, his cousin Vince (Ronnie Alonte) falls for her, and asks Vince to send anonymous messages to flirt with her on his behalf.

The story is based on a “textserye” by Jenny Ruth Almocera that went viral on Facebook, which told the story of two teenagers through a series of text messages. I’m not sure if the film deviates from the textserye, but the concept of meeting someone, getting to know them, and falling in love with through text messaging applies here.

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We’ve seen countless stories that depict this concept, heck, we’ve even experienced it ourselves. But what makes Vince & Kath & James an exciting watch is how Garcia and Barretto portray their roles with such ease and conviction. Most of the film’s best scenes involve Garcia and his interactions with Barretto, Alonte, and Ina Raymundo, who plays his mom. Clearly,  he is the star of the film. The way he portrays Vince is so authentic that he makes you laugh when he teases Kath, and cry when he deals with his family issues. Your heart almost bleeds for the guy.

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Barretto’s performance is just as impressive. I haven’t watched any of her previous projects, but I’ve seen enough of her photos on social media and in magazines to know that she’s one of those classy girls. She sheds off her posh image in the film, and she is believable as a simple girl who’s almost bordering on boyish.

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Vince & Kath & James is a film that’s driven by formula, and that’s okay. It seems to be self-aware, as there’s a scene that plays, and even mimics, the Star Cinema classic Got 2 Believe. This Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry stands out because of the intense chemistry shared by Garcia and Barretto. Garcia is a charming leading man, and I can see why people are saying that he could be the next John Lloyd Cruz.

Yes, the film is cheesy, and at times corny, but remember this film revolves around college kids. Vince & Kath & James is not for the jaded. Or maybe it is. I am quite the cynical guy, and I left the cinema feeling warm and fuzzy.

Vince & Kath & James is one of the eight entries of the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival. The other seven films are Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2, Die BeautifulKabisera, OroSaving Sally, Seklusyon, and Sunday Beauty Queen. All films are screened in all cinemas nationwide, and will be screened until January 7, 2017.


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