By MINKA KLAUDIA S. TIANGCO
MAN HAS forgotten a simple truth: that one needs to see beyond material objects, and instead should seek intangible aspects of one’s life that are truly essential. Yet, for a dear little prince, taming a fox and gazing at a garden of common roses is what it takes to realize that it is only with the heart that one can see right, for what is essential is invisible to the eye.
Love makes one see the world through rose-tinted glasses, but certain experiences and seeing it misrepresented in various media makes one lose sight of it. In Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s latest offering, Kita Kita, viewers are invited to rediscover its abstractions and polish its tainted idea.
The film follows the story of Lea (Alessandra de Rossi), a Filipina working as a Velo taxi driver and tourist guide in Hokkaido, Japan. After finding out that her fiancé is cheating on her, she suffers from temporary blindness due to immense stress. Tonyo (Empoy Marquez), her friendly Filipino neighbor, visits Lea every day and brings her home-cooked Filipino dishes. Coaxed by his persistence, Lea agrees to step out of her home, where she has been holed up ever since she became blind, and accompanies Tonyo to some of Japan’s most romantic and picturesque sights, including Yurigahara Park and Mt. Moiwa, where the Bell of Happiness is located. From there, the neighbors warm up to each other, and eventually, their friendship blossoms into love.
The sequences of the places the lovers visited–including the charming and interesting city of Sapporo–is accompanied by light and peaceful sounds, woven together with the dreamy cinematography, which makes for one immersive experience.
Although the narrative is a bit predictable, Bernardo makes a conscious effort to stray from the formulaic and typical romcom tropes. De Rossi and Marquez’s pairing, though unlikely, have an undeniable chemistry and works magically on screen.
De Rossi, who is frequently seen playing serious and dramatic roles, shines as the determined and warm-hearted Lea. Vulnerable and genuine, she manages to accurately portray a woman who has experienced both the highs and lows of love.
Marquez, meanwhile, is one of the film’s biggest surprises. After playing the comedic relief character for years, he naturally and effectively delivered as de Rossi’s funny and charismatic love interest. Tonyo’s heartfelt gestures and quick-witted jokes charms, not only Lea but the audience, as well.
The film plays with bright pastel tones which contribute to its lightness and romantic intention. Veering away from over-the-top lines and forced attempts at humor, the film triumphantly presents love in all its silly, idealistic, nerve-wracking glory. It is a simple and honest account of two strangers in a foreign land finding a home in each other.
Kita Kita is a light-hearted and refreshing break from the Philippine cinema’s standard of romcom movies. As viewers stayed seated and engrossed in discussion, the film’s hopeful message of finding love despite the odds resonates deeply with its viewers long after the credits stopped rolling. F