Warning: This review contains major spoilers for Kita Kita.
Romantic-Comedies are the kinds of films I have the least expectations for because of how fucking similar and shrewed they tend to be. Once in a while, a romantic movie breaks free of this mold, but Kita Kita is not that rarity.
Kita Kita follows the loveless tour guide Lea (Alessandra De Rossi) after she loses her eyesight following her stressful life in Japan. Tonyo (Empoy Margquez), Lea’s equally lovelorn neighbor, then decides to help her out. The two slowly fall in love, and learn that they have a lot more in common than they initially realized.
Though its appearance may fool some, Kita Kita is not the romantic independent darling they hoped for. Rather, it’s almost just as vapid and out-of-touch as the bullshit that mainstream Filipino studios shit on a regular basis because they’re that creatively bankrupt.
Banana X Heart
Kita Kita, at the least, is a movie that took dedication and effort to make. Kita Kita is gorgeously shot, and its cast is made up of actors who are right for their roles. Praise should be given to both De Rossi and Marquez for portraying their characters perfectly, one being a cynic and the other being a likable loser.
Despite a cliché-ridden script that’s burdened by predictable jokes and painful pick-up lines that feel at home in some whiny fucker’s Facebook page about unrequited love, the leads turn in compelling performances. Because of this, it’s hard not to get invested in their onscreen plights – even if it feels like the script was written by squeeing teen-aged brats who think Nicholas Sparks movies are intellectual.
But these saccharine cosmetics only serve as distractions from Kita Kita’s major faults. Though not the worst local movie ever made, Kita Kita’s is so problematic that it turned what could have been a disposable but somewhat entertaining romantic tale into something worse than expected.
Annoyance Is A Virtue
A problem with Romantic-Comedies is how the creepiest things are callously glossed over because of love. Specifically, Kita Kita romanticizes stalking among other things. By the second act, it’s revealed that Tonyo knows how to get close to Lea because he fucking stalked her and actively interfered in her personal affairs to advance his own benefit. But since Tonyo gets flattened by a fucking car, stalking’s romantic and not disturbing at all. To say that the movie’s lack of nuance or self-awareness is appalling would be redundant and rhetorical on my part.
Kita Kita was already a chore to sloth through because of its cheesy dialogue, but its second half made it a good example of everything wrong in cinematic romantic storytelling. Aside from the fact that he doesn’t look like a model, Tonyo is no different from the other entitled “Nice Guy” motherfuckers in the lead romantic role who always gets the girl by annoying the shit out of her or doing something questionable. Simply put, I’m not convinced that corny jokes, mangled English, and invading someone’s personal space will quickly get anyone a relationship. That kind of scenario belongs in self-indulgent escapist telenovelas and stories with self-insert protagonists aimed at those who learned their social skills from some shitty harem-themed anime, not a relatively grounded and realistic romantic comedy.
Even if Tonyo starts out with an innocent enough crush on Lea, this devolves into something on par with an obsession straight out of a sleazy 90’s thriller about mistresses and batshit-crazy nymphomaniacs. And yet, Tonyo’s actions are portrayed as playful, whimsical and quirky – complete with a droning cover of a sappy nostalgic song. Intentionally or otherwise, Kita Kita implies that as long as scoring some booty is the goal, the ends justify the means. If this is your idea of “romantic,” I don’t even want to know what the fuck is wrong with you.
Same Love, Different Day
To give credit where it’s due, Kita Kita is heartwarming at times and some jokes land. Bereft of cynicism, the filmmakers’ admirable passion and talent is obvious in each well-shot sequence. But a couple of decent scenes and great performances can not save Kita Kita from being, at best, forgettable and predictable. At worst, it’s emotionally manipulative, insufferable, and tedious.
Because someone is bound refute my thoughts on Kita Kita by getting personal, let me be clear and say that I am not opposed to romantic movies if they’re done right, like the impressive I’m Drunk, I Love You. And no, my lack of a significant other didn’t cloud my judgment, you predictable, straw-man fuck.
While Kita Kita has its moments, it’s a recycled story that does nothing to alleviate its framework’s fundamental problems. Just because Kita Kita was presented differently doesn’t mean it’s somehow automatically better than its romantic contemporaries, because it’s essentially the same old shit shoved in a better looking wrapper.
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