Fate seems to be a central theme of Direk Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s films.

In Kita-Kita, fate intervened between two lovers preventing them from having a happy-ever-after ending.

In Mr & Mrs Cruz, fate brought together two souls and though they didnt end up together, the ending suggests that should they want to, fate won’t stop them.

In her latest opus, Walang Kaparis, Bernardo once again explores fate at it’s most playful (or sadistic, depending on your view), bringing two people together only to separate them then repeats the cycle again. It’s as if fate is testing the two lovers’ breaking point, daring them to give up and move on except that they won’t, relentlessly albeit desperately, hanging on to the slimmest of all hope that maybe, just maybe, this is their time.

That choice is never easy. Painful in fact. At times, one sided. But they kept going. ‘At kung hindi man dumating sa atin ang panahon, na ako ay mahalin. Asahan mong di ako magdaramdam, kahit ako ay nasasaktan. Wag mo lang ipagkait, na ikaw ay aking mahalin.’

Ouch! That hurts! No matter how noble or romantic unconditional love is, those who’ved been in love before can tell you that a one-sided, unreturned love is truly painful.

Walang Kaparis is a reunion between Direk Bernardo and the two leads of the smash hit, Kita-kita: Empoy Marquez and Alessandra de Rossi. Here, Bernardo weaved a more focused love story anchored on the powerful performances by both Empoy and Alex, the unlikeliest love team in Philippine cinema and yet the most relatable. Their nuanced and controlled acting are so masterful, it’s a joy to watch them. The hungry looks, the meaningful silences, the small gestures that hides their longing and pains were all masterfully displayed by the two leads.

The film threw lots of questions about love and relationships to the viewers and the viewers were as eager as the protagonists to find the answers. When do we know that we have finally met the right one? When is the best time to fall in love? How do we know that we are in love? Do we hang on or move on? How about second chances? Or third? Are people meant for each other really meant for each other?

The film is told in a non-linear fashion with the film opening in Paris with Empoy as a struggling mime artist with a mysterious painting of a woman, his muse, but has no recollection of who the woman is until Alex showed up, introducing herself as Mary claiming that she is the woman in the painting. What follows is a roller coaster of emotion as Empoy and Alex makes you smile, cry, smile again, cry some more as you tag along with them as they unravel the mystery of the woman in the painting while finding answers to all the questions that the film asks.

Direk Bernardo is in top form here, never losing focus and adeptly bringing the film into a satisfying conclusion.

Yes, most of the quetions were never answered but who cares. Just like falling in love, we never care for the whys and the hows. What matters is the exhilirating feeling of joy, of wonder. And watching Walang Kaparis, makes you feel just that: fall in love over again! I via Renato Jao

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