A PLEASURABLE shiver starts to envelop Lani’s (Bela Padilla) body as the arms of a “broken boy” coil around her narrow waist. It is a strange sensation; a painful pleasure she is willing to endure in the hopes of either a newfound love or a painful ending.
While dealing with a recent breakup, Kai (JC Santos) meets Lani, a strong and independent girl dubbed as “Ms. Repairman” who helps him mend his broken heart. As Valentine’s day approaches, Kai falls out of love, triggering the outburst of Lani’s dark past and secrets that exposes her weakness and strips her of her strong disposition.
The Day After Valentine’s is a film beyond the standard confines of a romantic drama. Instead of the usual romantic scenes, writer-director Jason Paul Laxamana successfully turned the romance into a painful slice of reality by changing the film’s atmosphere and genre dynamically without disorienting the audience. This is evident when Lani reveals her frailness behind the mask of a self-reliant woman, exposing her dormant problems and wounds that are far from healing.
Laxamana’s film can is a perfect antithesis to mainstream romantic dramas. It is not just a typical hugot film, but rather a sincere narrative with different layers of surprises. Aside from passionate scenes, family values are also thrown into the film, such as when Kai went home to Hawaii to seek his family’s forgiveness. Its romantic vibe is merely its surface as it tackles a more earnest subject that is not just of the heart, but also of the soul.
However, early parts of the film seem to fail in executing the romance and flawless shifts in plot. This is evident when the intensity of Kai and Lani’s feelings for each other suddenly change without concrete transition or explanation, and when the film shifts into a travelogue, detaching itself from the core. Instead of surprising, the plot becomes confusing.
One of the new techniques that the film employed is genre reversal, which was only successfully utilized in some parts. One commendable reversal is when Lani, from her strong personality, takes off her mask of pretense in Kai’s presence and turns into a vulnerable girl plagued by her traumatic experiences. However, while the film has many great scenes, some of them became difficult to process due to faulty reversals and verbose narratives.
Santos and Padilla proved their capacity for high caliber acting in this film, performing with such persuasion and authenticity that allows the audience to sympathize with their characters’ states.
During the climax, a scene by Lani completely modifies the film’s atmosphere: she finally accepts the reality that she is also broken— perhaps even more shattered than Kai. Intensified by Kai’s refusal to love her back, Lani’s pain opens a fresh wound on her heart that slaps the audience with the reality that genuine love is not something that can be imposed, but a solemn choice one must make for himself.
Overall, the film tells viewers that it is acceptable to become weak, so longing for assistance is natural. However, one should not put the burden on another because everyone struggles with their own demons. Ultimately, it exposes the unhealthy reality of people who base their worth on someone’s belief and opinion of them. The film sends a message of how important self-love is and reminds audiences that loving yourself first is a preparation for loving others. F