Jason Paul Laxamana’s “teen” romance 100 Tula Para Kay Stella (2017) is pegged to be this year’s Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino’s romantic entry, but the film felt distant from the genre.
Bela Padilla plays the rigorously ambitious but frustrated rock singer Stella, while JC Santos portrays the insecure and stuttering Fidel. They first meet as freshmen in college. Fidel is immediately attracted to Stella, who wears black lipstick and sings in a band. This attraction fuels him to write a series of love poems that he dedicates to her, but never quite gets to her. Fidel’s heartsick poetry continues throughout the movie and their college lives.
There is little to be said about the romantic chemistry between the characters in the film, and this is not entirely the fault of either Padilla or Santos. The problem is that Laxamana has not made a love story for them to portray. Immediately apparent to the audience is that 100 Tula Para Kay Stella is a hugot film. Between Stella and Fidel lies an abundance of miscommunication, heartsick glances, and devoted pining that builds for a climax that ultimately falters in its impact.
Similarly, halfway through the two-hour film, one cannot help but yearn for a shift in perspective. The movie is set almost entirely in Fidel’s perspective, with the few intermittent scenes of Stella’s life appearing only to be discussed in relation to Fidel’s.
Overall, Laxamana’s movie settles surprisingly heavily on audiences. It hits viewers more like a somber coming-of-age movie with little breaks for good humor than any real kind of love story.
Photo retrieved from yuneo.com