Excess Baggage: A “That Thing Called Tadhana” Review
“There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald
I know more than a few friends who would be able to relate to all the heartbreak that this movie oh so generously invested on, especially with Valentine’s Day looming around the corner. As simple as the plot may seem, the execution, direction, and the acting performances were well-done, that it’s not hard to get drawn by the “hugot” that the film tries to shove down our throats.
That Thing Called Tadhana somehow makes me think of a Pinoy version of Before Sunrise. This movie is basically about 2 people who were strangers to each other at first, but eventually ended up having long hours of endless conversations while having spontaneous adventures. Just like the “Before” series, the tricky part is to keep the conversations interesting enough to avoid being a snooze fest and keep the audience glued to the screen. This, again like the “Before” series, was something that the movie was able to achieve seamlessly and captivatingly, thanks to the colorful characters that move our plot forward.
I’d prolly have a different reaction if I was Angelica
What made me make a few grunts and steal a few smiles was how Angelica Panaganiban and JM de Guzman delivered the well-written script genuinely, which is what Eugene Domingo would probably call the “as is where is” kind of acting. The dialogues weren’t too stylized and the exchanges were done in a way that felt so real, it wasn’t hard for me to imagine myself actually saying them in real life. Their chemistry worked so well, with JM providing the charm and “kilig”for our hopeless-romantic audience, and Angelica being the comic relief and anchor of the plot at the same time.
The movie was honest about being a “burgis” film. The fact alone that our main characters have the luxury of time and money to spare for their spontaneous detour already suggests that we’re in for a bourgeoisie experience. Even the characters themselves acknowledge this, jokingly teasing each other of their burgis ways. Oh well, it’s not a secret anyways that this is a middle-class film.
Because they were burgis enough to go all the way to Baguio on a whim to get a massage.
The film wasn’t subtle about having the couple’s luggage as some sort of metaphor for the weight that they are carrying from their past. In the first scene at the airport, we can see Mace (Angelica Panganiban) making an effort to unburden herself from some of the memories she had with her ex-boyfriend, trying to get rid of the weight brought by a heavy heart. Anthony (JM de Guzman) willingly offers to carry some of the weight for her, and this is what he becomes all throughout the movie – someone who helps Mace lighten her load, and get rid of the excess baggage that contains “buong buhay ko” (“my whole life”). It is also noticeable that Anthony’s luggage is so much lighter, and in spite of having some baggage of his own, he has some room to share for Mace, making him just the right person she needed at the moment.
As they travel they both carry their baggage and help each other deal with the weight. However, as the movie progresses, they eventually learn to let go of these burden, and you may notice that at the end of their trip, none of them are already carrying anything.
How did it end?
Surprisingly, there seemed to be different interpretations of the ending, like some people saying that Mace and Anthony didn’t get together in the end while others say otherwise. Personally, I believe that the ending implies that they got together, especially if we place them parallel to Mace’ short story: The Arrow with a Heart Pierced Through Him. And c’mon, would you really prefer that they didn’t?
That Thing Called Tadhana made it to my short list of Pinoy movies that I actually liked. It’s relatable, the performance feels genuine, and it also romantic and funny at the same time. I just wished that I actually saw this movie with a real date -__-
Credits to the images, videos, and materials used in this post go to “That Thing Called Tadhana” and/or to their respective owners. .I do not own these materials. No copyright infringement intended.